University of Chicago Press, March 2013. 272 pages, hardcover, dustwrapper, black and white photographs, illustrations.
Ellis’s 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. Ellis shows us how the bill is used for defence–contrary to popular opinion it is not used to spear prey, but to slash and debilitate, like a skilful sabre fencer. 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. Throughout, the book is graced with many of Ellis’s own drawings and paintings, which capture the allure of the fish and bring its splendour and power to life.