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Xiphias gladius  Linnaeus, 1758

Swordfish
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Xiphias gladius   AquaMaps   Data sources: GBIF OBIS
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Xiphias gladius
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Classification / Names Common names | Synonyms | Catalog of Fishes (gen., sp.) | ITIS | CoL | WoRMS | Cloffa

Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Perciformes (Perch-likes) > Xiphiidae (Swordfish)
Etymology: Xiphias: Greek, xiphos = sword (Ref. 45335).   More on author: Linnaeus.

Environment / Climate / Range Ecology

Marine; pelagic-oceanic; oceanodromous (Ref. 51243); depth range 0 - 800 m (Ref. 9354), usually 0 - 550 m (Ref. 54934).   Temperate; 5°C - 27°C (Ref. 43); 61°N - 50°S, 180°W - 180°E (Ref. 54934)

Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age

Maturity: Lm 221.0, range 156 - 250 cm
Max length : 455 cm FL male/unsexed; (Ref. 40637); common length : 300 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 9354); max. published weight: 650.0 kg (Ref. 4689)

Short description Morphology | Morphometrics

Dorsal spines (total): 0; Dorsal soft rays (total): 38-56; Anal spines: 0; Anal soft rays: 16 - 18. Blackish-brown fading to light-brown below; 1st dorsal fin with blackish-brown membrane, other fins brown or blackish-brown (Ref. 43). A long, flat, sword-like bill and no pelvic fins (Ref. 26938).

Distribution Countries | FAO areas | Ecosystems | Occurrences | Point map | Introductions | Faunafri

Atlantic, Indian and Pacific: tropical and temperate and sometimes cold waters, including the Mediterranean Sea, the Sea of Marmara, the Black Sea, and the Sea of Azov. Highly migratory species, Annex I of the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea (Ref. 26139). Mt DNA restriction analysis reveal that genetic differentiation occurs between populations inhabiting the Mediterranean Sea and the tropical Atlantic ocean, indicating little genetic exchange occurring between the two (Ref. 12784).

Biology     Glossary (e.g. epibenthic)

Oceanic but sometimes found in coastal waters (Ref. 9354). Generally above the thermocline (Ref. 9354), preferring temperatures of 18°C to 22°C (Ref. 9987). Larvae are frequently encountered at temperatures above 24 °C (Ref. 9702). Migrate toward temperate or cold waters in the summer and back to warm waters in the fall. Adults are opportunistic feeders, known to forage for their food from the surface to the bottom over a wide depth range (Ref. 9702). Feed mainly on fishes (Atlantic mackerel, barracudinas, silver hake, redfish, herring and lanternfishes (Ref. 5951)) but also on crustaceans and squids (Ref. 9354). They use their sword to kill their prey (Ref. 9354). Large individuals may accumulate large percentages of mercury in its flesh (Ref. 9354). Are batch spawners (Ref. 51846). Spawning takes place in Atlantic during spring in southern Sargasso Sea. Migrate to cooler waters to feed (Ref. 4689). Females grow fastest. Determination of age is difficult since the otoliths are very small and scales are missing in adults. Year rings have been successfully counted on cross sections of the fin rays (Ref. 35388). Pelagic eggs measure 1.6-1.8mm and the newly hatched larvae is 4 mm long. Sword is well developed at a length of 10mm and young live pelagically in the upper water layers where they quickly develop into very voracious predators (Ref. 35388). Mt DNA restriction analysis reveal that genetic differentiation occurs between populations inhabiting the Mediterranean Sea and the tropical Atlantic ocean, indicating little genetic exchange occurring between the two (Ref. 12784). Good food fish, marketed fresh or frozen, and can be made into sashimi, teriyaki or fillets (Ref. 9354).

Main reference Upload your references | References | Coordinator | Collaborators

Nakamura, I., 1985. FAO species catalogue. Vol. 5. Billfishes of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of marlins, sailfishes, spearfishes and swordfishes known to date. FAO Fish. Synop. 125(5):65p. Rome: FAO. (Ref. 43)

IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 90363)

CITES (Ref. 94142)

Not Evaluated

Threat to humans




Human uses

Fisheries: commercial; gamefish: yes
FAO(fisheries: production, species profile; publication : search) | FIRMS (Stock assessments) | FisheriesWiki | Sea Around Us

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Estimates of some properties based on models

Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805):  PD50 = 1.5000   [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.00380 (0.00146 - 0.00990), b=3.14 (2.91 - 3.37), based on LWR estimates for this Subfamily-body shape (Ref. 93245).
Trophic Level (Ref. 69278):  4.5   ±0.6 se; Based on diet studies.
Resilience (Ref. 69278):  Low, minimum population doubling time 4.5 - 14 years (rm=0.076; K=0.23; tm=5-6; tmax=9).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153):  High to very high vulnerability (72 of 100) .
Price category (Ref. 80766):   Very high.