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King Scallop

Pecten maximus



Species Description

North Atlantic species of scallop, an edible saltwater clam, a marine bivalve mollusc.

They are hermaphroditic and have distinct tongue-shaped gonads which are red or orange in colour for the female gonad and white for the male. It is estimated that a three-year-old scallop releases 15–21 million oocytes per emission. There appear to be two spawnings in many parts of the range, normally there is a partial one in the Spring and a full one in late August, however younger scallops have a single spawning event in the late summer. In some areas this pattern is reversed and the major spawning is in the Spring. Fertilization of the gametes is external and either sperm or oocytes can be released into the water column first.

Species Details






up to 21 cm


up to 20 years




Offshore waters down to 100 metres. Pecten maximus frequently creates a slight hollow in the substrate for its shell to lie in by opening and closing the valve to eject water from the mantle cavity, which raises the shell at an angle to the substrate so that subsequent water jets into the sediment and create a recess. Once settled, sand, mud, gravel or living organisms coat the upper valve, and the margin of the shell, with the tentacles and eyes, is all that is visible.

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