Beached Swordfish at Gordons Bay

Written by
November 3, 2023
SLEEK AND SLICK: The swordfish secretes oils from its head that create a drag-reducing film to enable greater speed through the water.
Despite attempts by concerned residents and officials alerted to the scene, a swordfish that had beached itself at Gordons Bay this week kept returning to the shore and died.

The incident occurred on Tuesday when NSRI Gordons Bay duty crew were requested by the city's Marine Animal Stranding Network (MASN) to assist at the beach where the swordfish was beaching itself.

According to the NSRI, "it appears that concerned residents had attempted to get the swordfish back out to sea during the high tide peak after the animal was witnessed beaching in shallow surf during the turn of the high tide but their efforts had not been successful."

The NSRI crew, with police and law enforcement officers responded to the scene while the SPCA were alerted and the MASN team responded.

They found concerned residents, despite the risk of injury, attempting to re-float the Sword Fish but the animal continued to beach itself.

The animal was unable to return to the ocean, and it was removed for scientific study by the Department of Environment. The NSRI said it was unknown what caused the animal to beach itself, "although we suspect ill health".

"The public members on the scene are commended for trying their best to save the animal. The swift response of NSRI Gordons Bay, Police, Law Enforcement, QUEMIC and CoCT MASN is commended.

"While these events are sad and understandably citizens want to do their best for the animal we appeal to the public to avoid risking injury in these natural circumstances," the NSRI said.

FEARSOME FLYER: Swordfish can reach speeds of 64km/h in the open ocean.


The swordfish is a voracious squid-seeking torpedo armed with a deadly blade. Equipped with an impressive arsenal of adaptations that allow them to achieve astounding predatory prowess, swordfish dominate their niche as fearsome pursuit hunters.

The Swordfish are an adaptable species, occurring throughout much of the tropical and temperate oceans of the world, including the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. They are known for their incredible swimming ability, and are among the fastest fish in existence, reaching 64km/h.

A fish that has a conservation status of 'least concern' although numbers are diminishing due to overfishing, they grow up to 4.5 metres long with a mass of up to 650kg, and feed on pelagic fish and squid. Some facts you may not know are: their sharp and very accurate 'sword' is used to slash and stab prey, and often used to strike high speed prey off their balance.

They secrete an oil from their head that 'lubricates' them in the water, reducing drag and improving speed. Despite their fearsome predatory reputation, they don't have teeth. Their prey is small enough to be squished or swallowed.

They have omnidirectional camouflage to hide in plain sight. Swordfish are counter-shaded, with dark dorsal and light ventral colouration that allows them to blend into their background when viewed from either above or below.

Swordfish possess a specialised tissue behind their eyes that is packed full of mitochondria and, unusually among fish, produces its own heat. This remarkable adaptation protects their eyes and brain from the rapid temperature changes that occur when travelling between the deep ocean and the surface, and keeps them functioning at full capacity despite the frigid temperatures of the depths.


They grow up to 4.5m long with a mass of 650kg