Wednesday, October 3, 2012's looking at you

And they're pretty too!
Photo by Dr DAD (Daniel A D'Auria MD) 
As bivalves go, scallops are surprisingly alert little creatures. Among all the wide ocean's two-shelled animals, only scallops have eyes and can see.

Their many eyes have lenses and retinas, and are a lovely shade of deep greenish-blue.

Some of the best photos I've seen of those beautiful blues are over at David's Photo Blog; you'll see the eyes in a row lining the inside edges of both of the shells. Do go have a look-see.

A scallop's eyes can detect movement and changes of light and shadow. When they detect the presence of a sea star, a scallop doesn't just slam shut and hope the predator chooses someone else to pull apart. Instead, it leaps into action! 

They can swim away by repeatedly clapping their shells, directing gulps of water out small openings on either side of their hinges, and moving jerkily forward. They look like swimming castanets, or, has often been suggested, two jaws biting their way through the water.

Oh yeah, and scallops are tasty, too. We humans usually only eat the round abductor muscle that holds the shells together, although I'm told that the rest of the animal is equally yummy. Do you suppose it's those baby blues that hold us back? 


  1. I had no idea scallops were so clever, so pretty and so active. I wonder if their mobility is what made the scallop shell the symbol of a pilgrim?

    If I can look Bambi in the eye and still pull the trigger to get the venison, I guess I'll continue to eat scallops in spite of their pretty blue eyes. I'll just appreciate them more.

  2. I remember playing with scallops under water, it was always fun to watch them swim away, then catch up to them and tease them again and off again they would go.

  3. I have had batter-dipped fried scallops and they were yummy. I did not have eyes to gaze iat.

  4. Your post made me wonder if the eyes of scallops evolved independently of other mollusks. A quick Google search and it looks like the answer is yes. Really cool.