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Cobia

(Rachycentron canadum)

cobia-1.jpg

  • Cobia population levels have not been estimated in recent years.
  • Management measures for cobia include gear restrictions, a minimum size limit, and a daily possession limit.
  • Cobia is a good lowfat source of protein. It is high in riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, magnesium, and potassium. For more on nutrition, see Nutrition Facts. (USDA)
  • Cobia is a highly valued seafood species. While they are not caught commercially in large quantities, researchers have raised cobia in captivity and are working to make commercial aquaculture of the species environmentally and economically sustainable.

Life History and Habitat

Life history, including information on the habitat, growth, feeding, and reproduction of a species, is important because it affects how a fishery is managed.

  • Geographic range: Cobia is found worldwide in tropical, subtropical, and temperate waters, except the Eastern Pacific. In the United States, they are found in the Atlantic Ocean from Massachusetts to the Florida Keys and in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Habitat: Cobia are a pelagic fish, living in the open ocean in tropical, subtropical, and temperate waters. They prefer to live near objects such as piers, buoys, boats, and platforms.
  • Life span: Up to 12 years.
  • Food: Cobia eat some fishes, although the bulk of their diet is crustaceans and other invertebrates.
  • Growth rate: Rapid for the first two years then slows gradually.
  • Maximum size: 6 feet and 100 pounds.
  • Reaches reproductive maturity: Cobia mature early. Females mature at 36 inches long and 3 years of age; males reach sexual maturity at 24 inches long and 2 years of age.
  • Reproduction: Cobia are batch spawners, meaning they spawn more than once during a spawning season. Females have from 377,000 to 1,980,500 eggs.
  • Spawning season: From late June to mid-August along the southeastern United States and from late summer to early fall in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Spawning grounds: Coastal bays and estuaries.
  • Migrations: Cobia migrate seasonally in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. In the spring in the Atlantic, cobia migrate north from wintering grounds in the Florida Keys to coastal Virginia and the Carolinas. In the Gulf of Mexico, cobia annually migrate north in early spring to spawning grounds in the northern Gulf of Mexico, returning to the Florida Keys by winter.
  • Predators: Potential predators of young cobia include larger pelagic fishes.
  • Commercial or recreational interest: Primarily of recreational interest but often retained as bycatch in commercial operations
  • Distinguishing characteristics: Cobia look like sharks or remoras (shark suckers). Cobia are dark brown with a single dorsal fin Young cobia are colored conspicuously with alternating black and white horizontal stripes with splotches of bronze, orange, and green.

Source: NOAA

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