Home Today Is The Bay Scallop Is The Official State Shell Of New York

The Bay Scallop Is The Official State Shell Of New York

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.

A scallop is a common name applied to many species of marine bivalve mollusks in the family Pectinidae. Every ocean in the world provides a habitat for these mollusks, too.

Many scallops are highly prized as a food source. 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 their mantle. These eyes may be a brilliant blue color, and allow the scallop to detect light, 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 sea water. Their intolerance of fresh water 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. Santiago de Compostella was built on the traditional burial site of St James the Great Sanctus (Jacobus in Latin) and became the third most important pilgrimage in Christendom after Jerusalem and Rome.
  • Compared to oysters and clams, scallop’s 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”.
  • 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.
  • There are more than 400 species of scallops found around the world.
  • 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.
  • The bay scallop is the official state shell of New York.
  • The buildings in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii were discovered with scallop shell architecture. The scallop shell also appeared on Roman gravestones and caskets.
  • The scallop is the universal symbol for several things: the weary traveler; the birth of Venus (the seashell is symbolic of a woman’s vulva); and the crusaders of the Order of St. James.
  • The iconic logo of the Shell Oil Company is none other than a modern version of the Great Scallop.


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