It sounds like science fiction: tens of thousands of voracious, fast-growing fish escape from ocean pens in a foreign environment and begin migrating up the coast, wreaking havoc on native fisheries. But this is really happening, as thousands of cobia, which are found in the Atlantic but unknown to the Eastern Pacific, were accidentally released from an Ecuadorian aquaculture facility during late summer.

They’ve since been detected off Colombia and Panama, and at least one scientist believes the “rogue” fish are headed to California, with potentially “horrifying” consequences. The cobia have been migrating north at a rate of about 200 miles per month, according to UC Santa Barbara research biologist, Milton Love. Love stated recently that there’s a 50-50 chance that the cobia will reproduce along the way, and he added that water conditions will be prime for their arrival in Southern California this summer. READ MORE