Cape Cod, Mass in August 2008.
Scallops are diverse, with over 300 species of scallops living on the ocean floor worldwide. They range from shallow waters to areas several hundred feet deep. Scallops, classified as bivalve mollusks, hide some amazing secrets. For one, about sixty primitive tiny bright blue eyes eyes reside in rows along a scallop’s mantle edge to detect motion, light and dark. A scallop can easily regrow any lost or injured eyes. Although these eyes may or may not produce clear images, the ability to sense an object moving with the speed of one of the scallop’s predators allows the scallop to save its skin (or to be scientifically correct, its shells) by either shutting immediately or swimming away.
Secondly, scallops possess an unusual trait which most other bivalves lack: the ability to swim. Scallops can propel themselves away from danger by contracting their powerful muscles and “clapping” their shells together, forcing water out through openings on both sides of their shell hinge. They can move forwards backwards, make turns, and right themselves in this fashion. Scallops swim particularly when faced with a predator (e.g., a seastar). Otherwise, if left relatively undisturbed, scallops are fairly sedentary creatures that lie on the seafloor as they feed by filtering microorganisms from the water.