ALSO KNOWN AS:
of the cobia you’ll find in the market comes from aquaculture operations. In the wild, cobia are
rarely seen in large groups, so only a small amount is wild-caught. Commercial fishermen do not
specifically target cobia and only land them as bycatch when fishing for other species.
LOCATION & HABITAT
Cobia are found in tropical, subtropical, and warm temperate waters around the world, except in
the Eastern Pacific. In U.S. waters, they’re most abundant from Virginia south through the Gulf of
Mexico. Cobia migrate seasonally in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. Along the Atlantic coast, they
move south and offshore toward warmer waters during the late fall and winter. Cobia found in the
northeastern Gulf during the summer move to south Florida waters in the winter, possibly
spending the winter near the Florida Keys.
Cobia are pelagic – they live near the surface of the water column. They prefer to live near any
structure in the water (buoys, debris, shipwrecks, and artificial reefs) or large animals (sharks,
turtles, and stingrays). Cobia are rarely seen in large groups. Adult cobia tend to travel alone or in
Cobia grow fast when they’re young and more slowly as they get older. They grow up to 6 feet and
100 pounds and can live up to 12 years. Cobia are able to reproduce when they’re young –
females mature at age 3 and males mature at age 2. Depending on their size, females have
between 375,000 and almost 2 million eggs. Cobia spawn several times throughout their
spawning season, which spans from late June to mid-August in the Southeast and from late
summer to early fall in the Gulf of Mexico. They spawn in coastal bays and estuaries.
Cobia are strong, aggressive predators, feeding on fish, squid, and crustaceans. In fact, they’re
nicknamed “crab eaters” because the bulk of their diet is crustaceans. Larger pelagic fishes prey
on young cobia.
Cobia is the only member of the family Rachycentridae in North America. The remora (shark
sucker) is their closest living relative. In fact, they’re often mistaken for sharks or remoras. They’re
dark brown with a single dorsal fin. Young cobia have distinct coloring, with alternating black and
white horizontal stripes and splotches of bronze, orange, and green.
Cobia Saltwater Fishing Regulation
Cobia - Fishery
Cobia - Seafood
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