Cobia
Overview
 
Cobia—also known as black kingfish, black salmon, ling, lemonfish, crabeaters, aruan tasek, etc.—are perciform marine fish
Fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

, the sole representative of their family, the Rachycentridae.
Attaining a maximum length of 2 metres (78 inches) and maximum weight of 68 kilograms (150 pounds), cobia have elongate fusiform (spindle shaped) bodies and broad, flattened heads.
Encyclopedia
Cobia—also known as black kingfish, black salmon, ling, lemonfish, crabeaters, aruan tasek, etc.—are perciform marine fish
Fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

, the sole representative of their family, the Rachycentridae.

Description

Attaining a maximum length of 2 metres (78 inches) and maximum weight of 68 kilograms (150 pounds), cobia have elongate fusiform (spindle shaped) bodies and broad, flattened heads. Their eyes are small and their lower jaw projects slightly past the upper jaw. On the jaws, tongue and roof of the mouth are bands of villiform (fibrous) teeth. Their bodies are smooth with small scales, their dark brown coloration grading to white on the belly with two darker brown horizontal bands on the flanks. These may not be prominent except during spawning when cobia lighten in colour and adopt a more prominently striped pattern.
The large pectoral fins are normally carried horizontally (rather than vertically as shown for convenience in the illustration), so that, as seen in the water they may be mistaken for a small shark. When boated, the horizontal pectoral fins enable the cobia to remain upright so that their vigorous thrashing can make them a hazard.
The first dorsal fin is composed of six to nine independent, short, stout, and sharp spines. The family name Rachycentridae, from the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 words rhachis meaning "spine" and kentron meaning "sting," is an allusion to these dorsal spines.
Mature cobia have forked, slightly lunate tail fins with most fins being a dark brown. They lack air bladders.

Similar species

Cobia somewhat resemble and are most closely related to the Remora
Remora
The remora , sometimes called a suckerfish or sharksucker, is an elongated, brown fish in the order Perciformes and family Echeneidae...

 of the family Echeneidae. However, they lack the dorsal sucker of the Remora, their body is far stouter and their tail is far more developed, and forked instead of rounded. Juvenile cobia are patterned with conspicuous bands of black and white. Their tails are rounded rather than forked as in the adults.

Distribution and habitat

Cobia are pelagic
Pelagic zone
Any water in a sea or lake that is not close to the bottom or near to the shore can be said to be in the pelagic zone. The word pelagic comes from the Greek πέλαγος or pélagos, which means "open sea". The pelagic zone can be thought of in terms of an imaginary cylinder or water column that goes...

 and are normally solitary except for annual spawning aggregations; however, they will congregate at reef
Reef
In nautical terminology, a reef is a rock, sandbar, or other feature lying beneath the surface of the water ....

s, wrecks, harbours, buoys and other structural oases. They may also enter estuaries
Estuary
An estuary is a partly enclosed coastal body of water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea....

 and mangrove
Mangrove
Mangroves are various kinds of trees up to medium height and shrubs that grow in saline coastal sediment habitats in the tropics and subtropics – mainly between latitudes N and S...

s in search of prey.

They are found in warm-temperate to tropical waters of the West and East Atlantic, throughout the Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

 and in the Indo-Pacfic off India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 and Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

. The largest taken on rod & reel was taken from Shark Bay
Shark Bay
Shark Bay is a World Heritage listed bay in Western Australia. The term may also refer to:* the locality of Shark Bay, now known as Denham* Shark Bay Marine Park* Shark Bay , a shark exhibit at Sea World, Gold Coast, Australia* Shire of Shark Bay...

, Australia weighing 60 kg (135 lb). They are able to tolerate a wide range of temperatures (eurythermal) and salinity (euryhaline
Euryhaline
Euryhaline organisms are able to adapt to a wide range of salinities. An example of a euryhaline fish is the molly which can live in fresh, brackish, or salt water. The European shore crab is an example of a euryhaline invertebrate that can live in salt and brackish water...

) between 1.6 and 32.2°C and 5-44.5 ppt
PPT
- Organizations :* Parti progressiste tchadien, a political party active in Chad between 1947 and 1973* Patria Para Todos, a left-wing political party in Venezuela* Permanent Peoples' Tribunal, an international opinion tribunal founded in Bologna, 1979...

 in the environment.

Feeding habits

Cobia feed primarily on crab
Crab
True crabs are decapod crustaceans of the infraorder Brachyura, which typically have a very short projecting "tail" , or where the reduced abdomen is entirely hidden under the thorax...

s, squid
Squid
Squid are cephalopods of the order Teuthida, which comprises around 300 species. Like all other cephalopods, squid have a distinct head, bilateral symmetry, a mantle, and arms. Squid, like cuttlefish, have eight arms arranged in pairs and two, usually longer, tentacles...

, and other fish. Cobia will follow larger animals such as shark
Shark
Sharks are a type of fish with a full cartilaginous skeleton and a highly streamlined body. The earliest known sharks date from more than 420 million years ago....

s, turtle
Turtle
Turtles are reptiles of the order Testudines , characterised by a special bony or cartilaginous shell developed from their ribs that acts as a shield...

s and manta ray
Manta ray
The manta ray is the largest species of the rays. The largest known specimen was more than across, with a weight of about . It ranges throughout waters of the world, typically around coral reefs...

s in hope of scavenging a meal. Cobia are intensely curious fish and show no fear of boats and are known to follow other caught fish up to a boat and linger to see the action.
Their predators are not well documented, but the dolphinfish (Coryphaena hippurus) is known to feed on immature cobia. Shortfin mako shark
Shortfin mako shark
The shortfin mako shark, Isurus oxyrinchus , is a large mackerel shark. Along with the closely related longfin mako it is commonly referred to as a "mako shark".-Etymology:...

s are known to feed on adult cobia and have been seen by fishermen following cobia during their annual springtime migration in the northern Gulf of Mexico
Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico is a partially landlocked ocean basin largely surrounded by the North American continent and the island of Cuba. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. In...

.

Life history

Cobia are pelagic spawners; that is, they release many tiny (1.2 mm) buoyant eggs into the water which become part of the plankton
Plankton
Plankton are any drifting organisms that inhabit the pelagic zone of oceans, seas, or bodies of fresh water. That is, plankton are defined by their ecological niche rather than phylogenetic or taxonomic classification...

. The eggs float freely with the currents until hatching. The larvae are also planktonic, being more or less helpless during their first week until the eyes and mouths develop. Males mature at two years and females at three years. Both sexes lead moderately long lives of 15 years or more. Spawning takes place diurnally from April to September in large offshore congregations where females are capable of spawning up to 30 times during the season. Up to 20 individual spawns may take place in one season, with intervals of about one to two weeks.
Cobia are frequently parasitized by nematode
Nematode
The nematodes or roundworms are the most diverse phylum of pseudocoelomates, and one of the most diverse of all animals. Nematode species are very difficult to distinguish; over 28,000 have been described, of which over 16,000 are parasitic. It has been estimated that the total number of nematode...

s, trematodes, cestodes, copepod
Copepod
Copepods are a group of small crustaceans found in the sea and nearly every freshwater habitat. Some species are planktonic , some are benthic , and some continental species may live in limno-terrestrial habitats and other wet terrestrial places, such as swamps, under leaf fall in wet forests,...

s and acanthocephalans.

Migration patterns

Cobia make seasonal migrations along the coasts in search of water in their preferred temperature range. Wintering in the Gulf of Mexico, they migrate north as far as Maryland in the Summer, passing East Central Florida in March.

Utilization

Cobia are sold commercially, and command a high price for their firm texture and excellent flavor. However, there is no directed fishery owing to their solitary nature. They have been farmed in aquaculture
Aquaculture
Aquaculture, also known as aquafarming, is the farming of aquatic organisms such as fish, crustaceans, molluscs and aquatic plants. Aquaculture involves cultivating freshwater and saltwater populations under controlled conditions, and can be contrasted with commercial fishing, which is the...

 for this reason. The meat is usually sold fresh. They are typically served in the form of grilled or poached fillets. Chefs Jamie Oliver
Jamie Oliver
James "Jamie" Trevor Oliver, MBE , sometimes known as The Naked Chef, is an English chef, restaurateur and media personality, known for his food-focused television shows, cookbooks and more recently his campaign against the use of processed foods in national schools...

 and Mario Batali
Mario Batali
Mario Batali is an American chef, writer, restaurateur and media personality. In addition to his classical culinary training, he is an expert on the history and culture of Italian cuisine, including regional and local variations. Batali co-owns restaurants in New York City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles,...

 each cooked several dishes made with cobia in the "Battle Cobia" episode of the Food Network
Food Network
Food Network is a television specialty channel that airs both one-time and recurring programs about food and cooking. Scripps Networks Interactive owns 70 percent of the network, with Tribune Company controlling the remaining 30 percent....

 program Iron Chef America
Iron Chef America
Iron Chef America: The Series is an American cooking show based on Fuji Television's Iron Chef, and is the second American adaptation of the series, following the failed Iron Chef USA. The show is produced by Food Network, which also carried a dubbed version of the original Iron Chef. Like the...

, which first aired in January 2008. Thomas Keller
Thomas Keller
Thomas Keller is an American chef, restaurateur, and cookbook writer. He and his landmark Napa Valley restaurant, The French Laundry in Yountville, California, have won multiple awards from the James Beard Foundation, notably the Best California Chef in 1996, and the Best Chef in America in 1997...

's French Laundry
French Laundry
The French Laundry is a French restaurant located in Yountville, California, in the Napa Valley. The chef and owner of the French Laundry is Thomas Keller....

 offers Cobia on its tasting menu.

Aquaculture

Cobia, Rachycentron canadum, is considered one of the most suitable candidates for warm, open-water marine fish aquaculture
Aquaculture
Aquaculture, also known as aquafarming, is the farming of aquatic organisms such as fish, crustaceans, molluscs and aquatic plants. Aquaculture involves cultivating freshwater and saltwater populations under controlled conditions, and can be contrasted with commercial fishing, which is the...

 in the world. Their rapid growth rate in aquaculture, as well as the high quality of the flesh makes cobia potentially one of the most important marine fish for future aquaculture production.

Currently, cobia are being cultured in nurseries and grow-out offshore cages many parts of Asia and off the coast of US, Mexico and Panama. In Taiwan 100–600 g cobia are cultured for 1–1.5 years to reach 6–8 kg in size which is suitable for export to Japan. Currently, around 80% of marine cages in Taiwan are devoted to cobia culture. In 2004, FAO
Fão
Fão is a town in Esposende Municipality in Portugal....

 reported that 80.6% of the world’s cobia production was by primarily China and Taiwan.FAO After China and Taiwan, Vietnam is the third largest producer of farmed cobia in the world where production was estimated at 1500 tonnes in 2008. Following the success of cobia aquaculture in Taiwan, emerging technology is being used to demonstrate the viability of raising hatchery
Hatchery
A hatchery is a facility where eggs are hatched under artificial conditions, especially those of fish or poultry. It may be used for ex-situ conservation purposes, i.e. to breed rare or endangered species under controlled conditions; alternatively, it may be for economic reasons A hatchery is a...

-reared cobia in collaboration with the private sector primarily using SeaStation™ and Aquapod™ submerged cages at exposed offshore sites in Puerto Rico and the Bahamas.

Greater depths, stronger currents and distance from shore all act to reduce environmental impacts often associated with fin fish aquaculture. Offshore cage systems could become some of the most environmentally sustainable methods for commercial marine fish aquaculture. However, some problems still exist in cobia culture that needs to be addressed and solved for increasing production. These include high mortality
Mortality rate
Mortality rate is a measure of the number of deaths in a population, scaled to the size of that population, per unit time...

due to stress during transport from nursery tanks or inshore cages out to grow-out cages. Also diseases during nursery and growout culture can result in low survival, and consequently poor harvest.
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK