Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Perciformes
(Perch-likes) > Xiphiidae
Etymology: Xiphias: Greek, xiphos = sword (Ref. 45335). More on author: Linnaeus.
Environment / Climate / Range
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)
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).
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).
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).
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.
IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 90363)
Fisheries: commercial; gamefish: yes
Estimates of some properties based on empirical models
Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805
= 1.5000 [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.00372 (0.00156 - 0.00889), b=3.15 (2.94 - 3.36), based on LWR estimates for this Subfamily-BS (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) .