Cobia, Rachycentron canadum, are cultured at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science for the Virginia Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program. Scientists tag and release cultured juvenile cobia to learn about their growth and movements in Chesapeake Bay and beyond.
Cobia are highly sought trophy fish in lower Chesapeake Bay. Citation cobia (>55 lb; 25 kg) are mostly mature females. Scientists can determine habitat use for adult cobia through recreational fishery catch data, but not much is known about movements of juvenile cobia.
To further stock-enhancement and juvenile-habitat research, cobia are cultured in recirculating water systems at VIMS. When they are large enough to tag, they are tagged with a t-bar tag and released into the York River at Gloucester Point.
More than 300 tagged juvenile cobia were released in 2003 and 2006.
- 21 fish were recaptured in 2003 and 45 were recaptured in 2006.
- Tags were reported by recreational and commercial fishermen.
- Most fish were recaptured in waters 1-4 m deep, corresponding to sand-flat and grass-bed habitats.
- A tagged cobia was recaptured 381 days after release; it had grown more than 12 inches.
- Recapture locations indicate dispersal throughout lower Chesapeake Bay.
More fish were tagged and released in 2007 and 2008 with funding from the National Sea Grant Program, Marine Aquaculture Initiative.