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 A five year old cobia in our Chesapeake bay exhibit

Cobia Rachycentron canadum have a dedicated following in this area and thus many cobia fishermen are very secretive about their fishing spots. In addition to being a powerful and challenging adversary for sport-fishermen, they are an excellent food fish; so much so that they are being commercially grown and marketed. Their rapid growth and firm, mild flesh make them an ideal aquaculture species. There is of course much more to them than simply a fillet.

Cobia are fascinating fish and one of the more mysterious fishes in this area. They may be plentiful one day or one week, or nearly impossible to find. They generally migrate into the Bay in early summer and head southward in early fall to overwinter off Florida. Cobia are generally solitary, seeking out structure, but often accompany (or are accompanied by) sharks and rays, adding to their mystique. Also they get large – over 100 pounds – and have a similar shape and movement to that of sharks, giving them even more gravitas. Proof of their allure and uniqueness are their many and varied nicknames: man in the brown suit, bonita, the brown cloud, ling and lemonfish, among others. Another one, crabeater, actually makes sense as they prey heavily on blue crabs.Whatever you call them, their seasonal presence is always highly anticipated.

A young-of-the-year cobia in our Juvenile Fishes exhibit

As with most fishes at the VLM, we usually acquire cobia as juveniles. Firstly, they are infinitely easier to get at this stage and secondly they can be acclimated to captivity much more easily, and most importantly, they are BEAUTIFUL as young (pictured above) and can be displayed immediately. Cobia are extremely “friendly” fish and quite gentle for their size. We currently have four yearlings that are rapidly outgrowing their exhibit and will be added to our largest tank as nearly 2 footers as early as next summer.

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