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EFSA - European Federation Of Sea Anglers


Swordfish (XIPHIAS GLADIUS)

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SWORDFISH / XIPHIAS GLADIUS
15 30 117.00 257.15 Albarella Italy 130898 M. Vittadello
24 50 51.27 113.0 Faial Azores 171187 J. Reece
AT AT 259.50 572.1 Sessimbra Portugal 58 A. de Villas Boas

The swordfish (XIPHIAS GLADIUS)

is found in oceanic regions worldwide, including the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. It is found in tropical, temperate, and sometimes cold waters, with a latitudinal range of approximately 60°N to 45°S. The swordfish is a highly migratory species, generally moving to warmer waters in the winter and cooler waters in the summer. It is often present in frontal zones, areas where ocean currents collide and productivity is high.

The swordfish, as the only member of the family Xiphiidae, can be distinguished from other billfishes (Family Istiophoridae) by the shape of its prolonged "bill", which appears as a flattened oval in cross section. The bill is long relative to other billfishes and adults lack teeth in the jaws. While the young have scales, these are lost by the time the fish attain a body length of about 3 feet (1 m). Adults lack scales and teeth. The body is generally cylindrical. Two dorsal fins are present, although the second is quite small, separated from the first, and set far back on the body. The first dorsal fin is high and rigid. Likewise, there are two anal fins, although again the second is considerably smaller than the first. Pelvic fins are absent. The caudal fin is lunate, while the caudal peduncle has a pronounced keel on either side. The lateral line is also present in specimens up to 3 feet (1 m) in body length, but it too is lacking in adulthood.

As opportunistic predators, swordfish feed at the surface as well as the bottom of their depth range (>2,100 ft (650 m)) as evidenced by stomach contents. They feed mostly upon pelagic fishes, and occasionally squids and other cephalopods. At lower depths they feed upon demersal fishes. The sword is apparently used in obtaining prey, as squid and cuttlefishes commonly exhibit slashes to the body when taken from swordfish stomachs. A recent study found the majority of large fish prey had been slashed, while small prey items had been consumed whole. Larval swordfish feed on zooplankton including other fish larvae. Juveniles eat squid, fishes, and pelagic crustaceans.

 

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