Parts of a Swordfish

Swordfish thrive worldwide in temperate and tropical waters above 58 degrees Fahrenheit. The solitary creatures prefer to swim close to the surface of the water, breaching periodically to reveal their dorsal fins, though the fish can dive to depths of up to 2,100 feet. The predators forage by day or night, preying on small fish, squid, octopus and crustaceans. The swordfish gets its name from the long, flat swordlike nose it uses to pierce the flesh of its prey.

  1. Size

    • Adult swordfish reach up to 15 feet long and weigh up to 1,190 lbs. Female swordfish typically reach larger sizes than the males and have a longer life span. Juvenile swordfish grow at a fast rate. At the age of 18 months, 50 percent of male swordfish will have reached maturity. All males will have matured by the age of 5. The female species reaches maturity at a slower age. Typically females will reach maturity from between ages 5 to 9 years. The species migrates seasonally from feeding grounds to spawning grounds.

    Coloring and Body Type

    • Adult swordfish have long, round bodies. The smooth skin of the swordfish's dorsal side is dark brown or gray blue. The belly area usually is a silvery white color. The flesh of the swordfish mostly is comprised of muscle, which allows the predator to quickly change course to target prey. Juvenile swordfish, or recently hatched larvae, have thin, snakelike bodies with spiny scales and plates.

    Head Features

    • The swordfish's sharp, flat snout, or nose, measures one-third of the length of its body. The upper jaw is much larger than the pointed lower jaw, which features a wide mouth. Adult swordfish have no teeth. The eyes of the swordfish are large compared to the proportion of its body. Superior eyesight allows the swordfish to easily target its prey. Curved gill covers are located behind the eyes. A lateral line begins behind the eyes and travels the length of the body. Juvenile swordfish have equally prolonged jaws that contain fine filelike teeth.

    Fins

    • The swordfish has several types of fins. The tall crescent-shaped first dorsal fin, and the tiny second dorsal fin contain bonelike rods that support the fin membrane. A sturdy keel or ridge at the base of the swordfish's tail adds strength to the tail fin. The large caudal or tail fin is crescent-shaped. The belly features two more fins, the thin pectoral fin and the anal fin. The combination of the first dorsal fin and the large anal fin allows the swordfish to achieve fast cruising speeds.

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References

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