Fish ID >>Offshore 

swordfish

Swordfish

Xiphias gladius

Description: Color of back variable, black, grayish blue, brown, metallic purple, or bronze; sides dusky; underbelly dirty white; long flat, sword-like upper jaw; lacks scales, teeth, and pelvic fins; single keel on each side of body in front of tail; first dorsal fin high, rigid and short; large eyes.

Similar Fish: No close resemblance to other billfishes.

Where Found: Offshore species worldwide in temperate and tropic waters; known to frequent depths of 400 to 500 fathoms; also has been seen basking at the surface.

Size: Once averaged 200 pounds, but overharvest has reduced size of commercially caught swordfish to average of 48 pounds.

Remarks: Large swordfish are all females, males seldom exceed 200 pounds; except when spawning, females believed to prefer water cooler than that favored by males; feeds on squid, octopus, and pelagic fishes of all kinds.

Illustration: © Diane Rome Peebles

Join the Discussion