Xiphias gladius Linnaeus, 1758

Xiphias gladius image

Synonyms: Xiphias gladius Günther, 1860

Common names: Engl: Broadbill swordfish; Bulg: Mechenosets; Georg: Khmala tevzi; Rom: Peste spada; Russ: Mech-ryba; Turk: Kilic baligi; Ukr: Mech-ryba



Taxonomic descriptions: Large and very distinctive fish of rounded body, very robust in front; the snout ends in a long flattened sword; young specimens are covered with scales and have a single dorsal and anal fin which with growth become divided; large specimens are scale less and have a high, but short first portion, and smaller second elements to both fins; pelvic fins absent; a single strong lateral keel on each side of the caudal peduncle; colour of back and upper side brownish-black; lower sides and belly light brown; teeth are present only in the young. Size; maximum - 450 cm; common - 100 to 220 cm.

Xiphias gladius arealIUCN Status:
    World level:
    Black Sea Regional level: EN
    Subregion level: EN


Habitats type, Critical habitats, Limiting factors: Pelagic, in coastal waters as well as offshore, surface waters. Common throughout the Mediterranean, Azov Sea and in all tropical and temperate oceans. In eastern Atlantic from the North Sea to a latitude of 45°S.

Biology: Highly migratory and very aggressive fish, generally not forming schools. Feeds on a wide range of fish, especially schooling species, also on pelagic crustaceans and squids. It uses its sword to kill larger prey. In coastal waters it is taken with fixed nets. Mainly with floating long lines (small specimens).

Population trends: In the last three decades only isolated specimens caught in stake nets in the Romanian waters, in Sulina, Constantza and Agigea zones. No catch at least for the last five years in the Turkish Black Sea coasts.

Threats: Eutrophication, turbidity in shallow water.

Conservation measures taken: None.

Conservation measures proposed: Reduce eutrophication and pollution by improving the quality of riverine input. Mitigating the pollution in the Bosphorus Strait and Black Sea. Banning the swordfish fisheries in certain periods in the Black Sea. Establishing a special recovery programme in the entire Black Sea.


  1. Radu, Gh., E.Leonte, Gina Butoi, Florica Verioti, Aurica Gorban, Elena Radu, 1996 - Principalele specii de pesti si mamifere din Marea Neagra (Determinator). Main fish and mammal species from the Black Sea (Identification sheets). IRCM, Constantza. (In Rom.; in press.).
  2. FAO species identification sheets for fishery purposes. Mediterranean and Black Sea, fishing area 37, vol. I, 1973.

Compiled by: G.Radu, F.Verioti