Swordfish (Xiphias gladius)
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Biology: Swordfish, with their stout rounded bodies, are fast swimmers, reaching 50 miles per hour. They are found worldwide in temperate and tropical waters. They are seasonal visitors to New England waters, staying only for the summer and fall before moving south. Swordfish swim alone or in loose aggregations. They sometimes bask at the surface or jump through the air, probably to startle fish and make them easier to capture. Swordfish can measure over seven feet and can weight up to 1400 pounds. Females grow faster, get larger, and live longer than males. Their swords can be used to injure prey, making it easier to catch, and to defend swordfish against predators such as the shortfin mako shark. Swordfish are near the top of the food chain, consuming squid and fish.
Sustainability status: Swordfish stocks are not experiencing overfishing, and are at 5% above their scientifcally established target population. More information is available here.
Harvest: The commercial swordfish fishery uses pelagic longlines, which pose no risk to the marine environment because they do not touch the seafloor.
Nutritional facts: Swordfish are a good source of niacin, vitamin B12, selenium, and zinc. Since they are near the top of the food chain, they may contain levels of mercury above the levels considered by the FDA to be safe for children and pregnant women. A 100-gram portion of swordfish contains 19.8 grams of protein, 48.1 mcg selenium, 121 calories, 4 grams of fat, 39 mg cholesterol, and 90 mg sodium.
Available whole or in steaks, from July to December.
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