Bay Scallops on Florida's Gulf Coast

Examples of Bay Scallop shells

Bay scallops (Agropecten irradians) live surprisingly active lives for bivalve mollusks. Unlike clams, which stay buried in the sand, scallops move freely around the ocean floor. With 20 eyes around the edges of their shells, they can easily detect potential predators and take quick evasive action. The scallop has a strong adductor muscle between its shells. When this muscle contracts, water shoots out of the shell and propels the scallop away.

The bay scallops found in the Florida Gulf waters grow up to 3 inches and live for about one year. Their primary habitat is seagrass beds in water depths of 4-8 feet. Bay scallops are broadcast spawners, meaning they release reproductive cells to be fertilized externally. Scallop populations dwell in close proximity to aid in spawning, which usually occurs in the fall in Florida when the temperature drops.