Swordfish, also known as Broadbills, are large-sized predataory fish that have a long, flat bill. Although they are elusive, many Fishermen love catching them as they are considered a sport fish. The largest size of swordfish that has ever been caught was a whopping 536.15kg (1,182 lb), which was fished off Child in 1953.
The Swordfish is a highly migratory predator
As its name suggests, it is named after its sharp beak or mouth that looks almost like a sword. This shape plus its streamlined physique allows it to swim through the water with great agility and ease. It can swim at speeds of up to 80kmh (50 mph) in order to catch its prey.
Although some people think that its mouth is used to spear its prey, it is thought that the swordfish actually slashes its prey in order to injure it. However, it is known that it is used as a defensive weapon to ward off its predators such as the shortfin mako shark. Although the shortfin mako shark is one of the quickest and deadliest animals in the sea, it amazingly sometimes does not win against the swordfish! In fact, it can sometimes kill a shark by rammings its beak into its opponents belly or gills.
One of its most unusual features is that swordfish have special organs next to their eyes which heats their brain and eyes. As the swordfish in relatively cold temperatures, these special heating organs aid the swordfish by improving its vision. In turn, these special organs assist in catching prey.
They feed daily, but usually at night time where they hunt smaller fish. Although swordfish are not schooling fish, they have been seen to move through schools of fish. Squid is a popular meal for the swordfish. Other popular items that it eats include mackerel, bluefish, silver hake, herring, menhaden, butterfish, tuna, barracuda, flying fish, rockfish, and dorado.
Funnily enough, even though they are a predator to squid and many different types of fish, it does not really have any enemies.
Although swordfish is not listed as an endangered species, the United States Natural Resources Defense Concil and SeaWeb hired a marketing company to conduct an advertising campaign to promote that the swordfish population was in danger as it was a popular dish at many restaurants across America. This resulted in the wildly successful “Give Swordfish a Break” campaign, where over 700 prominent American Chefs agreed to remove the North Atlantic Swordfish from their menu.
The famous 'Give Swordfish a Break' campaign
As a result of this popular campaign, the US National Marine Fisheries Service proposed a swordfish protection plan. Bill Clinton, who was the President of that time, also called for a ban on the import and sale of swordfish. In a landmark Federal Government decision, 343,600 km2 (132,670 miles2) of the Atlantic Ocean was declared off-limits to fishing. Thanks to this decision, the swordfish stock has been replenished and it is currently 5% of the target level.
Unfortunately, there are no regular swordfish stock assessments in the South Atlantic or north-western Pacific Oceans. As a result, the amount of swordfish in these waters is unknown and considered a moderate conservation concern. In the Indian Ocean, it is thought that the swordfish is currently being overfished so they are of high conservation concerns in this region.