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Bay Scallop

Argopecten irradians

Scallops have short tentacles and 30-40 blue eyes around the edge of their shells. The eyes allow scallops to detect predators. (Rachael Norris and Marina Freudzon/Wikimedia Commons)
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Scallops have short tentacles and 30-40 blue eyes around the edge of their shells. The eyes allow scallops to detect predators. (Rachael Norris and Marina Freudzon/Wikimedia Commons)

The bay scallop is a bivalve that lives in the lower Chesapeake Bay’s salty, shallow waters. Its ribbed, multicolored shells are often found on beaches throughout the lower Bay.

Appearance:

  • Rounded, corrugated shells
  • Shells vary in color from gray or purple to reddish-brown
  • Interior is white, often with purple near the hinge
  • A pair of pointed “ears” at the hinge
  • Short tentacles and 30-40 blue eyes around the edge of the shells
  • Lacks a foot or siphon like most other bivalves
  • Grows to 3 inches in diameter

Habitat:

  • Lives in shallow waters, usually among eelgrass beds
  • Unlike other bivalves, bay scallops lie on the bottom, rather than burrowing under the sand
  • Shells are often found on sandy beaches

Range:

  • Lives in the salty waters of the lower Chesapeake Bay

Feeding:

  • Filter feeder
  • Draws water through its gills and filters out plankton

Predators:

  • Sea stars and other bottom-feeders prey upon bay scallops
  • Uses its eyes to detect nearby predators

Reproduction and Life Cycle:

  • Reaches sexual maturity around age one
  • Spawns in summer
  • Young scallops attach themselves to eelgrass and other objects by thin threads. They eventually drop to the bottom as they grow.
  • Lives approximately two years

Other Facts:

  • Each eye has a lens, retina, cornea and optic nerve, enabling the scallop to see movement and shadows
  • Scallops move by rapidly clapping their shells together, forcibly ejecting water from the cavity. This is different than most other bivalves, which use a foot to move.

Sources and Additional Information:




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