The term billfish is applied to a number of different large, predatory fish characterized by their large size (swordfish can be over 13 feet long) and their long, sword-like bills. Billfish found off California are the striped marlin, in the family Istiophoridae, and the swordfish, the only member of the family Xiphiidae. Billfish are most common in tropical and subtropical waters, but swordfish are sometimes found in temperate waters as well. They are important apex predators feeding on a wide variety of smaller fish and cephalopods. Billfish do not deliberately use their bills to spear prey; rather, they are used to stun prey. Billfish are found in all of the world’s oceans.
For additional life history information, click on one of the billfish species below: