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  • Writer's pictureBetsy Walker


My friend Anmarie from Gulf Breeze Bait & Tackle motivated me to dedicate some of this idle time while social distancing to take on a new project. As my income from my new business disappears during this unsettling time, I was hoping to keep Pensacola Beach Marina Charters social media content relevant, interesting and current. People are not taking as many charters, and, in turn, catching as many fish for me to share with you. Using my lifelong passion for marine biology and my ability to create art, I plan to do a sort of drawing challenge, sharing all new illustrations I have just started working on within the last couple of weeks! I will share mostly artwork of fish found in local waters, and I will include some fascinating tidbits of knowledge about each fish to show my appreciation of the amazing diversity and variety of marine life that surrounds us all. To kick off my project/blog, I am using a quick drawing of a cobia that I rushed through recently because I was ready to get my first post out there!

Cobia (scientific name Rachycentron canadum) are prized by many anglers in Northwest Florida. They are also known as ling, lemonfish, crabeater and sergeantfish. This flat-headed, heavy-bodied fish has dark lateral stripes, and a single dorsal fin, causing it to often be mistaken for a shark at first glance. I remember boating with the family when my kids were young and we stopped along the sound side of Fort Pickens near the pass. We spotted what we thought was a small shark and my kids ran to the beach as I waded toward the swimming brown fish to find it was a small cobia. While growing at a rate of 13 pounds per year, their maximum weight is approximately 100 pounds with a length near 6 feet. With that being said, the IGFA-All-Tackle world record is 135 pounds 9 ounces caught in Australia and a ling weighing 141 pounds took almost an hour to land off the Hallaniyat Islands.

Cobia spawn between April and September and peak spawning is in July. They are strong and aggressive predators that prefer to feed on crustaceans (crabs) but are opportunistic feeders and will eat almost anything (like I am doing during this extended stay at home) including fish and squid. Researchers studied the stomach contents of 78 cobia and found 28 different species of animals! During the ling’s migration west they will hang around floating structures like buoys, oil platforms, weedlines (floating patches of Saragassum seaweed), and flotsam (floating debris, often from ships), and will even hang with turtles, large rays and more. The longest distance recorded by a tagged cobia was 1300 miles, and one tagged off Pensacola traveled 1200 miles and was caught near South Carolina. One cobia averaged 15 miles per day, traveling 700 miles in 46 days!

Fish, as with all creatures, do not read books nor follow all of the data we have collected concerning their behavior or abilities. As such, they will continue to amaze us with what they are able to accomplish. I am excited to learn about and share these accomplishments with you over the coming weeks!

Follow us on Facebook at Pensacola Beach Marina & Charters or on Instagram thepensacolabeachmarina and add pictures of your favorite cobia catch!

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