Saturday, March 31, 2012


Xiphias gladius
The three most interesting things that I learned while reading about Swordfish are that 1) they are the only living members of their entire family. 2) Their genus name actually is the Latin word for sword. Convenient! And finally, 3) they have the widest temperature tolerance of any fish. They can be found in waters that range from 41-80 degrees F (5-27C)

Swordfish look a heck of a lot like Marlins and Sailfish, but they actually belong to two totally different families, though they are at least distantly related. They are a pelagic species that can be found in temperate and tropical ocean waters all around the world. They tend to migrate, moving into warmer waters in the winter and colder waters during the summer, but they also have that previously mentioned temperature tolerance, so they are able to survive at a variety of latitudes.

The sword of a Swordfish can actually make up 1/3 of their entire body length. They use the bill to thrash about while hunting, as it can stun and kill prey. The are opportunistic feeders, eating various types of squid, fish, and anything else they can grab.

Swordfish can grow really big! Though 10ft is usually considered large, individuals measuring over 14ft long have been observed. For such huge fish they lay tiny, tiny eggs. Each female can carry literally millions of eggs, all of which measure less than 2mm in diameter.

The species has been popular with recreational fisherman because of their aggressive nature and hard-to-catch attitude. They are also harvested commercially, though the meat tends to be higher in Mercury than many other Fish types. Currently Swordfish are listed as being of Least Concern, but because of longline commercial fishing they are listed on the Greenpeace Red List. Longline fishing results in bycatches and harms other fish species.

IUCN Status : Least Concern
Location : Tropical and Temperate oceans worldwide
Size : Length around 10ft (3m)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Actinopterygii -- Order : Perciformes
Family : Xiphiidae -- Genus : Xiphias -- Species : X. gladius

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