Calico Scallop (Argopecten gilbus Linnaeus, 1758)

Calico Scallop
Argopecten gilbus Linnaeus, 1758

Calico Scallop:
Classic Beauty

By Patricia B. Mitchell.

These pretty bivalves live in shallow water. They may reach a length of 2 inches. The surface of a Calico Scallop shell has about 20 rounded radiating ribs, and numerous subtle growth lines which run from the beak area of the shell outward. The color patterns on this clam are diverse and beautiful — dark maroon, rose, purple, brown, orange — on a white surface. Usually the upper half of the bivalve is more colorful than the lower. The wings or ears of the scallop are about equal in size. (The wings are the expansions which stick out from the hinge area of the shell.)

The Calico Scallop is edible, and is found from the coast of Maryland to Brazil, Bermuda, Cuba, and Puerto Rico.

The lovely shape of the scallop shell (of which there are numerous varieties) is a favorite motif of artists and designers. Historically and currently it is found often in everything from vases to napkins to chair frames. The shell itself may be used as a decorative or jewelry item.

The living mollusk is a fascinating creature, able to see with multiple eyes which fringe its mantle; and to “squirt” through the water by rapidly opening and closing its two valves.


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