Swordfish Facts ~ Swordfish Information

by Robert Cheney

in Fish, Sea Life

How many types (species) of swordfish are there?
There is only one species but they are grouped by location, though. There is the Pacific swordfish, the Mediterranean swordfish and the Atlantic swordfish. The Pacific swordfish is the largest of the three.

What is the size of a swordfish?
They grow fast and can reach 14 feet in length and weigh 1,200 pounds. The average size caught is 6 feet and  50-200 pounds.

How long do swordfish live?
Their lifespan reaches 9 years. They are ready to reproduce at 5 years.

What is the habitat of the swordfish?
They are found in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans and sometimes cold waters, including the Mediterranean Sea, the Sea of Marmara, the Black Sea, and the Sea of Azov. They are highly migratory, moving to warmer waters in the winter and cooler waters in the summer.

Is a swordfish at the top of the food chain?
They are near the top.



What do swordfish eat?
They feed on squid, octopus, bluefish and mackerel. They feed at the surface all the way down to about 2,000 feet.

How do swordfish catch their prey?
They rely on their speed and occasionally their sword-like bill to thrash their prey into submission.

Do swordfish have any predators?
Killer whales, sharks and tunas occasionally prey on them.

What’s the difference between a swordfish and a  marlin?
There are several species of marlin (blue, black, striped, white), but only one species of swordfish. They do share some physical similarities but they also have some differences. The bill on a swordfish looks just like a sword. A marlin bill is more rounded, not as long, and has a rough, raspy surface that the swordfish does not.
They are all large open water predators however, swordfish are primarily nocturnal whereas marlin are diurnal. Marlin are more often found in the upper reaches of the water column, where swordfish are often found in depths exceeding 1000 feet. Swordfish have a much wider temperature range, where marlin are more tropical and subtropical in habitat.

Another major difference is the dorsal fin on a swordfish is rigid, fixed in the upright position. Whereas all marlins and sailfish have a dorsal fin that can fold down into a channel.
Marlins are generally larger than swordfish as well.
Swordfish is eaten by humans whereas marlins are generally not.

Are female swordfish larger than the males?

How large are swordfish eyes?
Up to the size of a softball.
A swordfish eye washed up on the shore of Pompano Beach in Florida:

ABC News (Oct 15, 2012)

Do swordfish have teeth or scales?
Yes, but they lose them in adulthood.

How fast can a swordfish swim?
50 mph/ They are in the top 10 fastest animals in the ocean with the sailfish being the fastest.

What is a swordfish sword made of and what is it used for?
Juveniles have no sword, but teeth instead. As they mature, their upper jaw elongates into the sword which accounts for a third of their overall length. It is made of bone and cartilage. Their sword aids in swimming by aerodynamically cutting through the water. They use it for catching fish by thrashing a school to separate one out or to simply stun their prey.

Are their real swords made from a swordfish sword?
Yes. Here is a nice picture of one:

Real sword made from a swordfish sword

Real sword made from a swordfish sword

Why do swordfish jump out of the water?
When hooked by a fisherman, they jump and shake violently trying to loosen the hook from their lip.

Are swordfish endangered?
No. They are currently listed: Least Concern, which is the lowest level.

Can swordfish heat their eyes and brain?
Yes. Warm eyes work up to ten times faster than cold eyes. Other fish with this ability are marlins, tunas and some sharks. This allows them to dive deeper and into colder water in search of prey. Their heated brains allow for greater temperature variations in the surrounding water.

Swordfish in the wild- notice the large eye. They're heated too.

Swordfish in the wild- notice the large eye. They’re heated too.

How do swordfish reproduce?
Estimates vary considerably, but females may carry from 1 million to 29 million eggs in their gonads. Solitary males and females appear to pair up during the spawning season. Spawning occurs year-round in the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, the Florida coast and other warm equatorial waters, while it occurs in the spring and summer in cooler regions. The most recognized spawning site is in the Mediterranean, off the coast of Italy. The height of this well-known spawning season is in July and August, when males are often observed chasing females. 1

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