SWORDFISH

How to identify a Swordfish

Characteristically, this species has a smooth, very broad, flattened sword (broadbill) that is significantly longer and wider than the bill of any other billfish. It also has a nonretractable dorsal fin, rigid, nonretractable pectoral fins, and a single, but very large keel on either side of the caudal peduncle. Adults lack scales and swordfish of all sizes lack ventral fins. The back may be dark brown, bronze, dark metallic purple, grayish blue or black. The sides may be dark like the back or dusky in color. The belly and lower sides of the head are dirty white or light brown.This pelagic, migratory species usually travels alone. It uses its sword for defense and to kill or stun food such as squid, dolphin, mackerel, bluefish and various other midwater and deep-see pelagic species. Occasional attacks on boats have been authenticated by the recovery of swords found broken off in wooden hulls. One swordfish attacked Alvin, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute submarine, at a depth of 2,000 feet and wedged its sword so tightly into a seam that it could not be withdrawn.

Where to catch Swordfish

The broadbill swordfish is found worldwide in temperate and tropical oceanic and continental shelf waters from the surface to depths of 400-500 fathoms (2,400-3000 feet) or more. Except when spawning, females prefer cool, deep waters near submarine canyons or coral banks. Males prefer to remain in somewhat warmer waters.

IDENTIFICATION

How to Identify an Swordfish
 1 A smooth, very broad, flattened sword (broadbill) that is significantly longer and wider than the bill of any other billfish

 2 The back may be dark brown, bronze, dark metallic purple, grayish blue or black

 3 Nonretractable dorsal fin, rigid, nonretractable pectoral fins, and a single, but very large keel on either side of the caudal peduncle

TARGET AREAS

  • Baitfish Patches
  • Rocky Sea Floor
  • Night Fishing
  • The Open Ocean

Acknowledgements:  We thank TAKEMEFISHING.org (www.takemefishing.org), Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Indiana Department of Natural Resources for their contributions to these FISH FACTS.

Acknowledgements:  We thank TAKEMEFISHING.org (www.takemefishing.org), Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for their contributions to these FISH FACTS.

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