Monthly Archives: May 2016

Cobia Stripes

Cobia with prominent striping above and dull monocolor below - NOAA Images

Cobia with prominent striping above and dull striping below – NOAA Images

I’ve been seeing lots of cobia pictures lately. I’m acutely tuned into seeing them because cobia is still a bucket list fish for me. And of course this is the time of year when we see them and when anglers are catching them. Recently my friend Robert ask if I knew why some cobia have prominent stripes and others do not. He knows juveniles have darker stripes and as a fish ages the stripes fade. But Robert said if you look at angler photos, you could have two large cobia both the same size and one will be dull and the other with more prominent striping. That was what had him perplexed. And to be honest, I didn’t know the answer. But, I do now!

Before I answer the stripe question, let’s look at this beautiful fish. Cobia, Rachycentron canadum, gets its name from its 7-9 pointed dorsal spines; rhachis is Greek for spine and kentron mean pointed. The first description of cobia occurred in 1766 by a scientist Linnaes who classified it as Gasterosteus canadus, and not from a Canadian specimen as the species name canadus would suggest; his cobia came from the Carolinas. Interestingly, cobia was reclassified and renamed 19 times before its current scientific name was settled on.

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