A perfect fish in the evolutionary sense, the broadbill swordfish derives its name from its distinctive bill - much longer and wider than the bill of any other billfish - which is flattened into the sword we all recognize. And though the majesty and allure of this warrior fish has commanded much attention - from adventurous sportfishers eager to land one to ravenous diners eager to taste one - no one has yet been bold enough to truly take on the swordfish as a biographer. Who better to do so than Richard Ellis, a master of marine natural history? "Swordfish" is his ode to this mighty fighter. The swordfish, whose scientific name means "gladiator," can take on anyone and anything, including ships, boats, sharks, submarines, divers, and whales, and in this book Ellis regales us with tales of its vitality and strength. He makes it easy to understand why the fish has inspired so many to take up the challenge of epic sportfishing battles as well as the longline fishing expeditions recounted by writers such as Linda Greenlaw and Sebastian Junger.
Swordfish, he explains, hunt at the surface as well as thousands of feet down in the depths, and like tuna and some sharks, have an unusual circulatory system that gives them a significant advantage over their prey, no matter the depth in which they hunt. Their adaptability enables them to swim in waters the world over, and the largest ever caught on rod and reel was landed in Chile in 1953, weighing in at 1,182 pounds. Ellis' detailed and fascinating, fact-filled biography takes us behind the swordfish's huge, cornflower-blue eyes and provides a complete history of the fish from prehistoric fossils to its present-day endangerment, as our taste for swordfish has had a drastic effect on their population the world over. Throughout, Ellis' own drawings and paintings capture the allure of the fish and bring it to life for armchair fishermen and landlocked readers alike.