The fascinating Live Scallop
Scallops are fascinating creatures! Generally found in saltwater environments worldwide including the North Coast of Scotland. The King Scallops are one of the largest bivalves – meaning it is an aquatic mollusc with a compressed body and is enclosed within a hinged shell (formed of calcium carbonate), other such creatures include oysters, clams and mussels. Their shells are threatened by ocean acidification, affecting the ability of these organisms to build strong shells.
Scallops have dozens of bright blue eyes around their shell which can detect approaching danger. They are easily recognisable by their shells which are fan shaped and range in colour from dull to vivid and multi-hued. Their shells have deep ridges with two angular protrusions called auricles on either side of the shell’s hinge. They have a strong muscle holding their shells tightly together. This muscle is what most people recognise as a “scallop” it is actually the creature’s adductor muscle!
Scallops are generally hermaphrodites (both male and female organs) and can alter their sex throughout their lifecycle. Some exist as a definite sex however, in this case males are distinguished by their white testes and females by orange ovaries.
And then there were more…
Reproduction takes place through spawning, eggs and sperm are released into the water. Once an becomes egg fertilized, it becomes planktonic and drifts in the water. After around four to seven weeks this larvae dissipates to the ocean floor and attaches to objects using byssus threads, this is eventually lost with adulthood.
Scallops grow rapidly during their first years, increasing by 50 to 80%. By the time they reach 4 to 5 years old they become large enough for the catch, although some scallops have been known to live over 20 years. Some sea scallops grow very big with shells up to 9 inches in length.
Some fishing boats tow dredges (a heavy rake attached to a metal mesh bag) these can do considerable damage along the seabed as they rake up everything in their path. This is why here at Keltic Seafare we hand-dive for only the best and correct size of scallop, leaving the seabed intact and the younger scallop to continue on their journey.