Length - Maximum of approx. 6 - 6.5 feet
Weight - Maximum of approx. 100 - 150 lbs.
Cobia are found all over the world (except for the Eastern Pacific), in warm to temperate waters. In the U.S. they are most abundant in the Gulf of Mexico through South Virginia, migrating seasonally along the Atlantic Coast and the Gulf of Mexico where they winter.
Cobia are pelagic fish usually found near reefs, harbors, shipwrecks, buoys, and other structures. They can be found in very nearshore waters searching for food. They are comfortable in a wide range of temperatures and salinity.
They feed on other fish, squid, and their favorite meal is crabs.
Cobia are very fast growers when they are young. Their lifespan is estimated to be about 12-15 years. Cobia are reproductively mature at a young age, spawning begins at about 2-3 years old. Females spawn in coastal bays and estuaries. Depending on size, they can spawn anywhere between 300,000 to 2 million eggs up to 30 times (every 1-2 weeks) throughout their spawning season which is from spring through late summer. Adult cobias are usually seen alone or travel in small groups.
Importance to Fisheries and Aquaculture:
Cobia offers a high-quality white flaky flesh which consumers love. It is firm and has been lauded on cooking channels for its mildly sweet taste, lacking any “fishy” flavor. It is a top choice for chefs. Thus, it also commands a high market price. It is also a nutritious choice of protein, as it is low in fat, high in Omega-3s, and high in vitamins and minerals such as B6, riboflavin, magnesium, potassium, and niacin.
Currently, there is no fishery targeting cobia, seeing that this species does not travel nor congregate in large groups, it is a difficult fish to catch in large amounts. When cobia’s caught it is as by-catch or by recreational anglers seeking them out. For this reason, as well as their fast growth rate, they are seen as an exemplary marine fish species for aquaculture. Technology is already being used to commercially produce cobia in both recirculating aquaculture systems as well as open ocean submerged cages. The ability to grow these fish to market size quickly, away from nearshore in deep waters with strong currents, is opening up a whole sector of environmentally friendly fish farming capable of producing millions of tons of fish protein yearly.
One of cobia’s nicknames is “crab eaters” because a majority of their diet is crustaceans, but they are also known as lemonfish, black salmon, black kingfish, ling, and aruan tasek.
The largest cobia caught on record was from Destin, FL. weighing in at just over 130 lbs.