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Swordfish are large ocean fish that are most recognized by their long flat bill that looks like a sword.
Where do swordfish live?
Swordfish live throughout much of the world's oceans. They are found in the Indian, Atlantic, Pacific Oceans. They seem to prefer warmer waters, but are found at a variety of temperatures. They will generally migrate to warmer waters in winter and cooler waters in the summer. They can be found at varying depths in the ocean as well, including the surface where they sometimes jump out of the water in an activity called breaching.
How big do they get?
Swordfish are big fish. The females are quite a bit larger than the males. The largest swordfish ever caught weighed 1,182 pounds. It's believed that they may grow as large as 14 feet long and 1,400 pounds.
Besides their long bill and large size, swordfish have a large crescent shaped tail (caudal) fin, a tall front dorsal fin, a second much smaller dorsal fin, and pectoral fins. They have large eyes and no teeth. The top of their body is silvery gray-blue to brown while the bottom or belly is cream colored.
What do they eat?
Swordfish are carnivores and eat other ocean fish such as bluefish, mackerel, hake, and herring as well as squid and octopus. They may eat smaller fish whole, but attack larger fish by slashing at them with their sharp bill and then eating them. Swordfish must eat daily and use their great speed to catch other fish. They can swim at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour.
Fishing for Swordfish
Swordfish are a popular game fish as they are large and strong swimmers, so they present a challenge to the fisherman. They are also a popular food served in many restaurants. Because of this there has been overfishing in some areas especially near the coast. Also, most swordfish caught today are smaller, typically 100 to 200 pounds. This is likely due to overfishing.
Fun Facts about Swordfish
For more about fish:
- They have special organs next to their eyes that keep their brain and their eyes warm in cold water. This greatly improves their ability to see.
- They mostly eat at night.
- They have few predators which include humans, large sharks, and killer whales.
- Their scientific name is Xiphias gladius. Gladius means sword in Latin.
- They do not generally swim in groups or schools.
- Together with the marlin, it is one of the fastest fish in the ocean.
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