Scallop | Facts, Diet, Habitat & Pictures

Scallop | Facts, Diet, Habitat & Pictures

Scallop Overview


Scallops are marine bivalve mollusks known for their striking appearance. They have a flattened, fan-shaped shell with prominent ridges and a series of vivid, iridescent blue or pinkish-gray eyespots encircling the shell's margin. The upper shell of a scallop is typically mottled in shades of brown, while the lower shell is smoother and lighter in color.

Scallops possess a delicate, fleshy mantle that extends beyond the shell's edges and is often a creamy-white or orange hue. When swimming, they use powerful jet propulsion, expelling water through a hinge opening to propel themselves through the ocean.

Origins And Evolution

Scallops, bivalve mollusks, have an ancient evolutionary history dating back over 500 million years to the Cambrian period. They belong to the class Bivalvia, a group of mollusks characterized by hinged shells.

Scallops evolved from primitive, free-swimming ancestors and developed their iconic fan-shaped shells and unique swimming capabilities over millions of years. This evolution allowed them to thrive in various marine environments worldwide, from shallow coastal waters to deep-sea habitats.

Behavior and Lifestyle

Scallops are bivalve mollusks known for their active swimming behavior. They use a powerful jet propulsion system to swim by rapidly opening and closing their shells, expelling water through a hinge opening. This locomotion helps them evade predators and search for food.

Scallops are filter feeders, drawing in water and capturing plankton and small particles with their feathery gills. They often inhabit sandy or gravelly seabeds and can form dense aggregations on the ocean floor, where they attach themselves to the substrate with byssal threads.

Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia (Animals)
  • Phylum: Mollusca (Mollusks)
  • Class: Bivalvia (Bivalves)
  • Order: Pectinida (Scallops)
  • Family: Pectinidae (True Scallops)


  • Coastal waters
  • Continental shelves
  • Seabeds
  • Shallow bays
  • Coral reefs
  • Sandy or gravelly substrates
  • Estuaries
  • Deep-sea habitats
  • Kelp forests
  • Seagrass beds

Fast Facts

  • Name: Scallop
  • Scientific Name: Pectinidae spp.
  • Habitat: Seabed Meadows
  • Diet: Filter Feeder
  • Physical Features: Hinged Shells
  • Nocturnal: Active Nightly
  • Solitary: Often Grouped
  • Unique Order: Pectinoida Mollusks
  • Lifespan: 20 years
  • Conservation Status: Various Threats
  • Fun Facts: Propelled Swimmer

Physical Characteristics

  • Color: Iridescent Shades
  • Skin Type: Hinged Shells
  • Top Speed: Gentle Swimmer
  • Lifespan: Up to 20 Years
  • Weight: Lightweight Shell
  • Length: Shell Dimensions
  • Age of Sexual Maturity: 1-2 Years
  • Age of Weaning: Larval Stage

Scallop FAQs

Q: Are scallops and clams the same thing?

Ans: No, scallops and clams are both bivalve mollusks, but they belong to different families and have distinct physical features and habitats.

Q: How do scallops swim?

Ans: Scallops swim by rapidly clapping their shells together, expelling water, and propelling themselves through the ocean.

Q: Are all parts of a scallop edible?

Ans: Typically, only the adductor muscle, often called the "scallop," is consumed. The rest of the scallop is usually discarded.

Q: Do scallops have eyes?

Ans: Yes, scallops have up to 100 eyes along the edge of their shells, which detect light and motion.

Q: Are scallops harvested sustainably?

Ans: Sustainable harvesting practices for scallops vary, with some areas implementing strict regulations to protect scallop populations.

Q: Do scallops have predators?

Ans: Yes, scallops have natural predators, including starfish, crabs, and certain species of fish.


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