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Many people who fish enjoy reeling in cobia – big, strong fish that are fun to catch and delicious to eat.

In U.S. waters, cobia are most abundant from Virginia to the Gulf of Mexico.

“Chesapeake Bay is one of the major spots where they’re caught – it’s because they go in there to spawn in the summertime,” says marine scientist Dan Crear.

He says cobia migrate with the seasons. In winter, cobia in the Chesapeake Bay move offshore and south to warmer waters.

While at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Crear studied cobia’s distribution along the East Coast and how it might change as the climate warms.

He put tags on cobia that recorded their depth and the water temperature as they migrated. And he brought some cobia into the lab to study how they responded to various temperatures and oxygen levels.

His research suggests that as the climate warms, cobia may start migrating earlier in spring and later in fall.

“Also, just the amount of habitat further north may become more available to them,” Crear says. “So in the future, I think that cobia off of New Jersey and New York may be more common.”

He says fishing regulations may need to change accordingly so more people up north can catch these powerful fish.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media