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Encyclopedia > Swordfish

Conservation status
Data deficient (IUCN) [1]
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Xiphiidae
Genus: Xiphias
Species: X. gladius
Binomial name
Xiphias gladius
Linnaeus, 1758

Swordfish (Xiphias gladius) are large, highly migratory, predatory fish characterized by a long, flat bill. They are a popular sport fish, though elusive. Swordfish are elongated, round-bodied, and lose all teeth and scales by adulthood. They reach a maximum size of 14.75 ft (4.3 m) and 3,190 lb (1,446kg). The International Game Fish Association's all-tackle angling record for a swordfish was a 3,183 lb (1,443 kg) specimen taken off Chile in 1953. Swordfish can refer to: swordfish, a type of fish Fairey Swordfish, a British carrier-based, biplane torpedo bomber Swordfish, a movie starring John Travolta USS Swordfish, the name of two submarines in the United States Navy Swordfish, a common password in popular culture This is a disambiguation page — a list... Image File history File links Swordfish (Xiphias gladius). ... The conservation status of a species is an indicator of the likelihood of that species continuing to survive either in the present day or the future. ... The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (also known as the IUCN Red List and Red Data List), created in 1963, is the worlds most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of plant and animal species and can be found here. ... For other uses, see Scientific classification (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Animal (disambiguation). ... Typical Classes Subphylum Urochordata - Tunicates Ascidiacea Thaliacea Larvacea Subphylum Cephalochordata - Lancelets Subphylum Myxini - Hagfishes Subphylum Vertebrata - Vertebrates Petromyzontida - Lampreys Placodermi (extinct) Chondrichthyes - Cartilaginous fishes Acanthodii (extinct) Actinopterygii - Ray-finned fishes Actinistia - Coelacanths Dipnoi - Lungfishes Amphibia - Amphibians Reptilia - Reptiles Aves - Birds Mammalia - Mammals Chordates (phylum Chordata) include the vertebrates, together with... Orders See text The Actinopterygii are the ray-finned fish. ... Families many, see text The Perciformes, also called the Percomorphi or Acanthopteri, include about 40% of all fish and are the largest order of vertebrates. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Carl Linnaeus, Latinized as Carolus Linnaeus, also known after his ennoblement as  , (May 13, 1707[1] – January 10, 1778), was a Swedish botanist, physician and zoologist[2] who laid the foundations for the modern scheme of nomenclature. ... This snapping turtle is trying to make a meal of a Canada goose, but the goose is too wary. ... For other uses, see Fish (disambiguation). ... The term billfish is applied to a number of different large, predatory fish such as marlin and swordfish. ... The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) is the leading authority on angling pursuits and the keeper of the most current World Record fishing catches by fish categories. ... January 7 - President Harry S. Truman announces the United States has developed a hydrogen bomb. ...

They are the sole member of their family Xiphiidae.



The swordfish is named after its sharp bill, resembling a sword (Latin gladius), which together with its streamlined physique allows it to cut through the water with great ease and agility. Contrary to belief the "sword" is not used to spear, but instead may be used to slash at its prey in order to injure the prey animal, to make for an easier catch. Mainly the swordfish relies on its great speed and agility in the water to catch its prey. One possible defensive use for the sword-like bill is for protection from its few natural predators. The shortfin mako shark is one of the rare sea creatures big enough and fast enough to chase down and kill an adult swordfish, but they don't always win. Sometimes in the struggle with a shark a swordfish can kill it by ramming it in the gills or belly. Swiss longsword, 15th or 16th century Look up Sword in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Binomial name Rafinesque, 1810 Range of shortfin mako shark (in blue) The shortfin mako shark, Isurus oxyrinchus, (sharp nose) is a large shark of the Lamnidae family. ...

Females grow larger than males, with males over 300 lb (135 kg) being rare. Females mature at 4-5 years of age in northwest Pacific while males mature first at about 3 to 4 years. In the North Pacific, batch spawning occurs in water warmer than 24 °C from March to July and year round in the equatorial Pacific. Adult swordfish forage includes pelagic fish including small tuna, dorado, barracuda, flying fish, mackerel, as well as benthic species of hake and rockfish. Squid are important when available. Swordfish are thought to have few predators as adults although juveniles are vulnerable to predation by large pelagic fish. The pelagic zone is the part of the open sea or ocean comprising the water column, i. ... For other uses, see Tuna (disambiguation). ... Binomial name Coryphaena hippurus Linnaeus, 1758 The Mahi-mahi, Coryphaena hippurus, also known as dolphin, dolphin-fish, dorado or lampuka (in Maltese) are surface-dwelling ray-finned fish found in off-shore tropical and subtropical waters worldwide. ... For other uses, see Barracuda (disambiguation). ... Genera Cheilopogon Cypselurus Danichthys Exocoetus Fodiator Hirundichthys Oxyporhamphus Parexocoetus Prognichthys The Execoetidae or flyingfishes are a marine fish family comprising about 70 species grouped in 7 to 9 genera. ... Mackerel is a common name applied to a number of different species of fish, mostly, but not exclusively, from the family Scombridae. ... This article or section contains information that has not been verified and thus might not be reliable. ... The term hake refers to fish in either of: families Gadidae (subfamily Phycinae) families Merlucciidae (both subfamilies Merlucciinae and Steindachneriinae). ... Rockfish may refer to one of the following fishes: Striped bass, a member of the Moronidae (common name: temperate bass) family A member of the Sebastidae family of venomous fish of the Scorpaeniformes order The New Zealand rockfish (Acanthoclinus littoreus) Sebastes (Alaskan rockfish) estimated to live up to 157 years... For other uses, see Squid (disambiguation). ...

While swordfish are cold-blooded animals, they have special organs next to their eyes to heat their eyes and also their brain. Temperatures of 10 to 15 C° above the surrounding water temperature have been measured. The heating of the eyes greatly improves the vision, and subsequently improves their ability to catch prey. Out of the 25 000+ species of bony fish, only about 22 are known to have the ability to heat selected body parts above the temperature of the surrounding water. These include the swordfish, marlin, and tuna. Swordfish are not schooling fish. They swim alone or in very loose aggregations, separated by as much as 10 meters from a neighboring swordfish. They are frequently found basking at the surface, airing their first dorsal fin. Boaters report this to be a beautiful sight, as is the powerful jumping for which the species is known. This jumping, also called breaching, is thought by some researchers to be an effort to dislodge pests, such as remoras or lampreys. It could also be a way of surface feeding by stunning small fish as they jump out of the water, making the fish more easily captured for food. Image File history File links Swordfish skeleton at the National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC; digital photo and removal of background by User:Postdlf File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Image File history File links Swordfish skeleton at the National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC; digital photo and removal of background by User:Postdlf File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Inside the National Museum of Natural History, underneath the rotunda. ... Aerial photo (looking NW) of the Washington Monument and the White House in Washington, DC. Washington, D.C., officially the District of Columbia (also known as D.C.; Washington; the Nations Capital; the District; and, historically, the Federal City) is the capital city and administrative district of the United... This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ... For other uses, see Eye (disambiguation). ... In psychology, visual perception is the ability to interpret visible light information reaching the eyes which is then made available for planning and action. ... Classes Actinopterygii Sarcopterygii Osteichthyes are a taxonomic superclass of fish, also called bony fish that includes the ray-finned fish (Actinopterygii) and lobe finned fish (Sarcopterygii). ... For other uses, see Marlin (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Tuna (disambiguation). ...

Swordfish feed daily, most often at night when they rise to surface and near-surface waters in search of smaller fish. They have been observed moving through schools of fish, thrashing their swords to kill or stun their prey and then quickly turning to consume their catch. In the western North Atlantic, squid is the most popular food item consumed. But fish, such as menhaden, mackerel, bluefish, silver hake, butterfish, and herring also contribute to the swordfish diet.

Swordfish are vigorous, powerful fighters. When hooked or harpooned, they have been known to dive so quickly that they have impaled their swords into the ocean bottom up to their eyes. Although there are no reports of unprovoked attacks on humans, swordfish can be very dangerous when harpooned. They have run their swords through the planking of small boats when hurt.

The adults have few natural enemies, with the exception of large sharks and sperm and killer whales. They are easily frightened by small boats, yet paradoxically, large craft are often able to draw very near without scaring them. This makes swordfish easy to harpoon.


Swordfish have also been observed spawning in the Atlantic Ocean, in water less than 250 ft. (75 m) deep. Estimates vary considerably, but females may carry from 1 million to 29 million eggs in their gonads. Solitary males and females appear to pair up during the spawning season. Spawning occurs year-round in the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, the Florida coast and other warm equatorial waters, while it occurs in the spring and summer in cooler regions. The most recognized spawning site is in the Mediterranean, off the coast of Italy. The height of this well-known spawning season is in July and August, when males are often observed chasing females. The pelagic eggs are buoyant, measuring 1.6-1.8mm in diameter. Embryonic development occurs during the 2 ½ days following fertilization. As the only member of its family, the swordfish has unique-looking larvae. The pelagic larvae are 4 mm long at hatching and live near the surface. At this stage, body is only lightly pigmented. The snout is relatively short and the body has many distinct, prickly scales. With growth, the body narrows. By the time the larvae reach half an inch long (12 mm), the bill is notably elongated, but both the upper and lower portions are equal in length. The dorsal fin runs the length of the body. As growth continues, the upper portion of the bill grows proportionately faster than the lower bill, eventually producing the characteristic prolonged upper bill. Specimens up to approximately 9 inches (23 cm) in length have a dorsal fin that extends the entire length of the body. With further growth, the fin develops a single large lobe, followed by a short portion that still reaches to the caudal peduncle. By approximately 20 inches (52 cm), the second dorsal fin has developed, and at approximately 60 inches (150 cm), only the large lobe remains of the first dorsal fin. Fish anatomy is primarily governed by the physical characteristics of water, which is much denser than air, holds a relatively small amount of dissolved oxygen, and absorbs light more than does air. ...

Marinated swordfish

Swordfish is a particularly popular fish for cooking. Since swordfish are large animals, meat is usually sold as steaks, which are often grilled. The color of the flesh varies by diet, with fish caught on the east coast of North America often being rosier. Image File history File links Swordfish_1_bg_110901. ... Image File history File links Swordfish_1_bg_110901. ... . ... North America North America is a continent[1] in the Earths northern hemisphere and (chiefly) western hemisphere. ...

However, many sources including the United States Food and Drug Administration warn about potential toxicity from high levels of methylmercury in swordfish[2]. The FDA recommends that women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant should eat no more than one seven-ounce serving a month; others should eat no more than one serving a week. “FDA” redirects here. ... Methylmercury (sometimes methyl mercury), an organometallic cation with the formula [CH3Hg]+. It is a bioaccumulative environmental toxin. ...


Swordfish were harvested by a variety of methods at small scale until the global expansion of longline fisheries in the 1950-60s. Today in the United States, swordfish are caught by harpoons, handlines, and trawling but the vast majority of catches are on pelagic longlines. In 2003, sport fishermen in the US caught 48.3mt of swordfish, approximately 4.3 percent of the longline catch. Long-line fishing is a commercial fishing technique that uses hundreds or even thousands of baited hooks hanging from a single line. ... The pelagic zone is the part of the open sea or ocean comprising the water column, i. ...

Longline gear can be targeted to a variety of fish, but bycatch remains a significant problem. In fisheries science, by-catch refers to species caught in a fishery intended to target another species, as well as reproductively_immature juveniles of the target species. ...

Conservation status

Swordfish is not listed as an endangered species. [2]

In 1998, the Natural Resources Defense Council and SeaWeb hired Fenton Communications to conduct an advertising campaign to promote their assertion that the swordfish population was in danger due to its popularity as a restaurant entree. [3] The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) [1] is a leftist, New York City-based, non-profit, non-partisan environmental advocacy group, with offices in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Los Angeles. ... Fenton Communications is a public relations firm that was founded by David Fenton in 1982. ...

The resulting "Give Swordfish a Break" promotion was wildly successful, with 750 prominent U.S. chefs agreeing to remove North Atlantic swordfish from their menus, and also persuaded many supermarkets and consumers across the country.

The advertising campaign was repeated by the national media in hundreds of print and broadcast stories, as well as extensive regional coverage. It earned the Silver Anvil award from the Public Relations Society of America as well as Time magazine's award for the top five environmental stories of 1998.

Subsequently, the National Marine Fisheries Service proposed a swordfish protection plan that incorporated the campaign's policy suggestions. Then-President Clinton called for a ban on the sale and import of swordfish and in a landmark decision by the federal government, 132,670 square miles of the Atlantic ocean were placed off-limits to fishing as recommended by the sponsors.


In the North Atlantic, the swordfish stock is nearly rebuilt, but biomass remains slightly below that at which Maximum sustainable yield is produced, and abundance is increasing. This stock is considered a moderate conservation concern until the stock is fully rebuilt. There are no robust stock assessments for swordfish in the northwestern Pacific or South Atlantic, and there is a paucity of data concerning stock status in these regions. These stocks are considered unknown and a moderate conservation concern. The southwestern Pacific stock is a moderate concern due to model uncertainty, increasing catches, and declining CPUEs (catch per unit effort). Overfishing is likely occurring in the Indian Ocean, and fishing mortality exceeds the maximum recommended level in the Mediterranean, thus these stocks are considered of high conservation concern. [4] In population ecology, maximum sustainable yield or MSY is the largest long-term average yield/catch that can be taken from a species stock without depressing the species ability to reproduce. ...

Recreational Importance

Recreational swordfishing throughout the world, and especially in South Florida, has gained tremendous popularity. With the ban on longlining along parts of the eastern seashore, swordfish populations are showing signs of recovery. The recovery is far from complete and is not a fraction of what it was in the 70's when recreational swordfish was discovered off of the coast of South Florida.

To catch a swordfish off of Florida, most anglers drift live or dead baits in the Gulfstream. Boats drift beam to sea, which is why center consoles are so popular for this type of fishing. From Miami's Government Cut, Haulover Inlet or Port Everglades, the run to the swordfish grounds is less than 20 miles. Given the speed of the Gulfstream though, and fishing the majority of the night, you may end up as far as 40 to 50 miles from your homeport. From talking to longliners who used to fish in our waters, swordfish can be found in various parts of the Gulfstream, but the majority of recreational anglers fish a corridor of water that is 3 to 4 miles wide, but starts in the upper Keys and ends in Palm Beach. The reason that this area is so popular is due to the bottom terrain. In this lane there are a series of rises and falls in the depth contour which provides upwelling and seems to hold bait better than open expanses of flat bottom. Swordfishing can also be done during the day. you must fish your bait on the bottom since the fish stay deep during the daylight hours. but they are still active and ready to feed. an electric reel is ideal.[3]


  • The swordfish is often mistaken for the sailfish, with which it shares a striking resemblance.
  • In the CSI: NY episode "Dancing With the Fishes," Danny Messer and Sheldon Hawkes investigate the death of a man killed by a swordfish.
  • In season 4, episode 84 of Murder, She Wrote (Just Another Fish Story) the co-owner of a restaurant is stabbed to death with a frozen swordfish

Species Istiophorus albicans Istiophorus platypterus Sailfishes (genus Istiophorus) are fish living in all the oceans of the world. ...


  1. ^ Safina (1996). Xiphias gladius. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 12 May 2006.
  2. ^ [1] "What you need to know about mercury in fish and shellfish."
  3. ^ http://www.swordfishingcentral.com/fishing-boat-rigging.html
  • Michael Hopkin (2005): Swordfish heat their eyes for better vision. Nature, 10 January 2005
  • Fritsches, Kerstin A., Brill, Richard W., and Warrant, Eric J. (2005): Warm Eyes Provide Superior Vision in Swordfishes. Current Biology 15, 55−58
  • FDA Consumer:Mercury In Fish:Cause For Concern?
  • "Xiphias gladius". FishBase. Ed. Ranier Froese and Daniel Pauly. 10 2005 version. N.p.: FishBase, 2005.

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (also known as the IUCN Red List and Red Data List), created in 1963, is the worlds most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of plant and animal species and can be found here. ... The World Conservation Union or International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) is an international organization dedicated to natural resource conservation. ... is the 10th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2005 (MMV) was a common year starting on Saturday (link displays full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... FishBase is a comprehensive database of information about fish. ...

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<< Trivia: Image File history File links Commons-logo. ... Image File history File links Wikispecies-logo. ... Wikispecies is a wiki-based online project supported by the Wikimedia Foundation that aims to create a comprehensive free content catalogue of all species (including animalia, plantae, fungi, bacteria, archaea, and protista). ...

  • Sometimes the Swordfish is also depicted as a goldfish(not the goldfish found in ornamental garden ponds or in home aquarium) and dolphinfish of the tropical seas. This dolphinfish is a fish and not a mammal and it is diferent from the Dolphins. This Dolphinfish is a member of the family Coryphaenidae.

Dorado is a Southern sky contellation, which represent the goldfish, dolphinfish and swordfish. << Dr S.M.Patel

  Results from FactBites:
swordfish: Definition and Much More from Answers.com (1672 words)
Swordfish breed as far N as Nova Scotia; they are often seen basking on the water's surface, and their fins are sometimes mistaken for those of sharks.
Swordfish (Xiphias gladius) are large, highly migratory, predatory fish characterized by a long, flat bill in contrast to the smooth, round bill of the marlins.
While swordfish are cold-blooded animals, they have special organs next to their eyes to heat their eyes and also their brain.
California Swordfish (1026 words)
Swordfish abundance is related to oceanic cycles, and cycles are influenced by climatic conditions.
Swordfish are fished by many Pacific Rim countries, and fishermen use a variety of harvesting methods, including longline, drift gillnet, and harpoon.
Swordfish characteristically surface at night and move to the depths in daylight, but sometimes, when conditions are right, they bask at the surface.
  More results at FactBites »



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