Scientists Discover New Reason for Swordfish Speed

A gland at the base of the swordfish’s bill secretes a natural lubricant.

swordfish
Swordfish can reputedly reach speeds up to 60 mph.Mike Mazur / Sport Fishing

Scientists have discovered a new organ that may help the swordfish reach such high swimming speeds, according to a report from National Geographic.

The media outlet, which cites reports published Wednesday in the Journal of Experimental Biology, states "the swordfish has an oil-producing gland at the base of its bill, or sword. As the animal swims, this gland pumps a cocktail of fatty acids to its skin through a network of tiny capillaries and pores."

The oil creates a water-repelling layer "across the front of the swordfish's head," the report in National Geographic states, and it's this layer that allows the fish to move through water easier than most species. Swordfish have a hydrodynamic nose and can weigh more than 1,000 pounds, equal to 454 kilograms, yet still reaches swimming speeds of at least 60 mph (97 kilometers per hour), which is faster than most fish.

This new discovery could explain part of why the fish moves so well beneath the surface.

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