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Scallops Have About 60 Brilliant Blue Eyes That Line Its Mantle.

Right at the beginning of National Seafood Month, National Fried Scallops Day serves up a seafood dish enjoyed across the country. October 2nd each year brings scallop fans together to celebrate their favorite dishes.

Scallops are a cosmopolitan family and can be found in all of the world’s oceans. They are one of the most popular shellfish in the world and highly prized as a food source.

  • There are two fleshy parts of the scallop that are usually sold at the market for human consumption. The adductor muscle is the white medallion of meat that is rich and sweet. This is the piece that is most familiar as the  “scallop” we see on a menu.
  • There is also the coral or the roe which can range in color from pale coral to bright orange. This crescent-shaped piece is usually discarded before the scallop is sold at the market because it may contain toxins.
  • Although they may not look like it, scallops are animals. They are in the Phylum Mollusca, a group of animals that also includes snails, sea slugs, octopi, squid, clams, mussels, and oysters.
  • Scallops are in the group of mollusks called the bivalves. These animals have two hinged shells that are formed of calcium carbonate.
  • Scallops have about 60 eyes that line its mantle. These eyes are a brilliant blue color, and allow the scallop to detect light, dark and motion.
  • Atlantic sea scallops can have very large shells – up to 9″ in length. Bay scallops are smaller, growing to about 4 inches.
  • Unlike the mussel and the oyster, the scallop cannot close and seal its shell completely and so can only survive in the deeper, full salinity seawater. Their intolerance of freshwater means that they are not found in intertidal waters except at exceptionally low spring tides.
  • In 1280 Marco Polo recorded that scallops were sold in the market in Hangchow, China.
  • Compared to oysters and clams, scallop shells are thin and lightweight to aid in swimming. Since scallops can’t dig like clams, its shell also acts as camouflage.
  • The scallop is the only bivalve mollusk that can “jump” and “swim”.
  • There are more than 400 species of scallops found around the world.
  • Unlike mussels and clams, scallops are the only bivalve mollusk that is free-swimming. They swim by quickly opening and closing their shells, propelling themselves forward.
  • Just one bay scallop can produce up to 2 million eggs.
  • Most bay scallops are hermaphrodites – they have both male and female sex organs – while sea scallops have separate sexes.
  •  One scallop can produce millions of eggs but only one in 12 million reaches adulthood.
  • Each ring on a scallop’s shell represents a year of growth, although a ring might also record a stressful incident in the scallop’s life.
  • Dating back to 400BC, scallops have played a prominent part in man’s religious, artistic and architectural development. The shell features in numerous works of art, the most famous example being Botticelli’s masterpiece The Birth of Venus.
  • In Greek mythology, Aphrodite (the Greek equivalent to the Roman goddess Venus) was born and arose from the sea foam that resulted from Cronus (the new order of gods) flinging the severed genitals of Uranus (the old order of gods) into the ocean. A giant scallop shell then carried her to the island of Cyprus where her reign began.
  • In early Christian times, the scallop shell was often incorporated into baptismal fonts as a symbol of rebirth.
  • A scallop shell was carried by pilgrims to Santiago de Compostella and served both as a symbol of the pilgrimage as well as a drinking cup.
  • The United States has the largest sea scallop fishery in the world, with 56 million pounds of meat worth $546 million harvested in one year alone.
  • Three of the top ports pulling in sea scallops are New Bedford, Massachusetts; Cape May, New Jersey; and Norfolk, Virginia.

Sources:

National Day Calendar

Mobile-Cuisine

Lobster Anywhere

Mussel-Inn

Ocean Conservancy

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