Swordfish caught in Northumberland

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A fisherman has caught a swordfish a mile off the Northumberland coast in north east England.

Peter Dent caught the 6ft-long swordfish in his salmon nets just a mile off the coast of Newbiggin-by-the-Sea in Northumberland earlier this week.

Experts believe that the swordfish, which is normally found in the Mediterranean, was following mackeral shoals up the east coast of the UK. Fishing expert Sam Harris told the BBC that it was the first time he had heard of the species being caught in the cooler waters of the UK:

"It's a miracle. This fish is 2000 to 3000 miles off course. It just proves how the water temperature is hotting up. I couldn't believe it when someone told me, I thought it was a joke. It is absolutely amazing, it shouldn't be up here.

"But it doesn't look diseased and is in 100% good condition, probably from feeding on the huge shoals of mackeral up here. I have never heard of one taken on our coastline and I don't remember hearing of one taken anywhere around the British Isles."

Occasional UK visitorMuseum records show that the species has, in fact, been recorded from the UK a number of times. The first specimen recorded in UK waters was found in Margate in 1841. Another specimen was landed in Brighton in 1931, after being caught by fishermen in the English Channel. More recently, in 1971 a specimen was caught in the mouth of the River Avon at Avonmouth, with another specimen found dead at Avonmouth in 1973.

The Swordfish, Xiphias gladius, is a member of the family Xiphiidae and can reach a size of over 4.5m and weight up to 650kg.

The species is a migratory fish and is known from the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea, the Sea of Azov and the Sea of Marmara. It has also been recorded in cooler waters, including the Atlantic. Swordfish prefer water temperatures of 18-22C but migrate into cooler or temperate waters during the summer, returning to warmer waters in autumn.