Swordfish (Xiphias Gladius)

Latin name: Xiphias gladius
Common name: Swordfish
In other languages: E: Pez espada, F: Espadon, D: Schwertfisch
Class: Acanthopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Xiphiidae
Genus: Xiphias

Habitat: This pelagic open water fish undertakes great migrations. It lives close to the surface though when ranging for prey ventures to depths in excess of 600 metres.

Behaviour: A very fast and voracious predator.

Diet: Mackerel, garfish, herring, flying fish and squid.

Size: Common: 80 - 200cm, maximum: 400cm.

Enemies: Off the coast of Sicily the swordfish are caught in net traps, the very same net traps that take the tunny as they pass through the Messina Strait. In the western Mediterranean there is a mixture of net, harpoon or hook and line used. In the Strait of Gibraltar and the surrounding area many are caught in drift nets. The Moroccan fishermen still catch them in small boats with hand lines very much as in Hemmingway's 'Old Man and the Sea'.

Did you know? A diving friend of ours has had swordfish swim up to him stop, look him over, then swim on. He called them the 'gentlemen of the sea'. Having seen those large eyes much in the same way, we agree with him and would add that xiphias gladius is the paladin of the sea.

Mythology, history & fable: The swordfish has been much admired since classical times for its noble nature and tasty flesh. In southern Spain and Sicily this is still the case.