Atlantic Calico Scallop (Argopecten gibbus)

SHELL LENGTH: Approximately 1 inch (2.54 cm)

Calico Scallops come in a variety of colors and get their name from irregular markings on the shell. Scallops, growing up to two inches in diameter, are easily identified by being oval in shape with extensions or ears on the hinge area. Raised ridges extend from the hinge to the edge of the shell. Scallops feed on plankton, which is filtered from the water. They live in small depressions scooped out on the sandy bottom without burying themselves as other bivalves do. Scallops are able to move by jet propulsion to escape predators such as sea stars, closing their shell rapidly and expelling a jet of water, which moves them in the opposite direction. The first stage of their lives is spent as free-swimming zooplankton, called veligers, with the next stage being sedentary, allowing the shell to grow. Calico Scallops are fished commercially in deep waters offshore. Only the single adductor muscle is eaten in the U.S. but the whole animal is eaten in European countries. There are more than a dozen species of scallops found in the Southeastern United States.