A scallop (pron.: // or //) is a marine bivalve mollusk of the family Pectinidae. Scallops are a cosmopolitan family, found in all of the world's oceans. Many scallops are highly prized as a food source. The brightly colored, fan-shaped shells of some scallops, with their radiating fluted pattern, are valued by shell collectors and have been used as motifs in art and design.
Like the true oysters (family Ostreidae), scallops have a central adductor muscle, and thus the inside of their shells has a characteristic central scar, marking the point of attachment for this muscle. The adductor muscle of scallops is larger and more developed than that of oysters, because they are active swimmers; scallops are in fact the only migratory bivalve. Their shell shape tends to be highly regular, recalling one archetypal form of a seashell.
Scallops have up to 100 simple eyes arranged around the edges of their mantles like a string of beads. They are reflector eyes, about one millimeter in diameter, with a retina that is more complex than those of other bivalves. Their eyes contain two retina types, one responding to light and the other to abrupt darkness, such as the shadow of a nearby predator. They cannot resolve shapes, but can detect changing patterns of light and motion.
Reflector eyes are an alternative to those with a lens, where the inside of the eye is lined with mirrors which reflect the image to focus at a central point. The nature of these eyes means that if one were to peer into the pupil of an eye, one would see the same image that the organism would see, reflected back out. The scallop Pecten has up to 100 millimeter-scale reflector eyes fringing the edge of its shell. It detects moving objects as they pass successive eyes.
Food and digestion
Most scallops are filter feeders, and eat plankton. Incidentally, the plankton can include scallop larvae. Siphons bring water over a filtering structure, where food becomes trapped in mucus. Next, the cilia on the structure move the food toward the mouth. Then, the food is digested in the stomach and digestive gland. Waste is passed on through the intestine and exits via the anus.
Most scallops are free-living, but some species can attach to a substrate by a structure called a byssus, or even be cemented to their substrate as adults (e.g. Hinnites spp.). Other scallops can extend a "foot" from between their valves (shell). By then contracting the foot, they can burrow themselves deeper into sand. A free-living scallop can swim by rapidly opening and closing its shell. This method of locomotion is also a defensive technique, protecting it from threatening predators. So-called Singing Scallops can make an audible soft popping sound as they flap their shells underwater.
The scallop family is unusual in that some members of the family are dioecious (males and females are separate), while other are simultaneous hermaphrodites (both sexes in the same individual) and a few are protoandrous hermaphrodites (males when young then switching to female). Red roe is that of a female, and white, that of a male. Spermatozoa and ova are released freely into the water during mating season and fertilized ova sink to the bottom. After several weeks, the immature scallop hatches and the larvae drift in the plankton until settling to the bottom again to grow, usually attaching by means of byssal threads. Some scallops, such as the Atlantic bay scallop Argopecten irradians, are short lived, while others can live 20 years or more. Age can often be inferred from annuli, the concentric rings of their shells.
By far the largest wild scallop fishery is for the Atlantic sea scallop (Placopecten magellanicus) found off northeastern United States and eastern Canada. Most of the rest of the world's production of scallops is from Japan (wild, enhanced, and aquaculture), and China (mostly cultured Atlantic bay scallops).
Scallops are most commonly harvested using scallop dredges or bottom trawls. Recently, scallops harvested by divers, hand-caught on the ocean floor, have entered the marketplace. In contrast to scallops captured by a dredge across the sea floor, diver scallops tend to be less gritty. They are also more ecologically friendly, as the harvesting method does not cause damage to undersea flora or fauna. In addition, dredge-harvesting methods often result in delays of up to two weeks before the scallops arrive at market, which can cause the flesh to break down, and results in a much shorter shelf life.
The Tasman Bay area was closed to commercial scallop harvesting from 2009 to 2011 due to a decline in the numbers. In 2011, industry-funded research was conducted into scallop harvesting patterns. Forest and Bird list scallops as "Worst Choice" in their Best Fish Guide for sustainable seafood species.
On the east coast of the United States, over the last 100 years, the populations of bay scallops have greatly diminished. This decrease is due to several factors, but probably is mostly due to reduction in sea grasses (to which bay scallop spat attach) due to increased coastal development and concomitant nutrient runoff. Another possible factor is reduction of sharks from overfishing. A variety of sharks used to feed on rays, which are a main predator of bay scallops. With the shark population reduced — in some places almost eliminated — the rays have been free to dine on scallops to the point of greatly decreasing their numbers. By contrast, the Atlantic sea scallop (Placopecten magellanicus) is at historically high levels of abundance after recovery from overfishing.
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Sometimes, markets sell scallops already prepared in the shell, with only the adductor muscle intact. Outside the U.S. the scallop is often sold whole. In Galician cuisine, scallops are baked with bread crumbs, ham, onions, etc.
Scallops that are without any additives are called "dry packed", while scallops that are treated with sodium tripolyphosphate (STPP) are called "wet packed". STPP causes the scallops to absorb moisture prior to the freezing process, thereby getting a better price per unit of weight. The freezing process takes about two days.
In a sushi bar, hotategai (帆立貝, 海扇) is the traditional scallop on rice, and while kaibashira (貝柱) may be called scallops, it is actually the adductor muscle of any kind of shellfish, e.g. mussels, oysters, or clams.
Scallops have lent their name to the culinary term scalloped, which originally referred to seafood creamed and served hot in the shell (Rombauer 1964). Today it means a creamed casserole dish such as scalloped potatoes, which contains no seafood at all.
Shell of Saint James
The scallop shell is the traditional emblem of James, son of Zebedee, and is popular with pilgrims on the Way of St James to the apostle's shrine at Santiago de Compostela in Galicia (Spain). Medieval Christians making the pilgrimage to his shrine often wore a scallop shell symbol on their hat or clothes. The pilgrim also carried a scallop shell with him, and would present himself at churches, castles, abbeys etc., where he could expect to be given as much sustenance as he could pick up with one scoop. Probably he would be given oats, barley, and perhaps beer or wine. Thus even the poorest household could give charity without being overburdened. The association of Saint James with the scallop can most likely be traced to the legend that the apostle once rescued a knight covered in scallops. An alternative version of the legend holds that while St. James' remains were being transported to Galicia (Spain) from Jerusalem, the horse of a knight fell into the water, and emerged covered in the shells.
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Throughout antiquity, scallops and other hinged shells have symbolized the feminine principle. Outwardly the shell can symbolize the protective and nurturing principle, and inwardly the "life-force slumbering within the Earth", an emblem of the vulva.
Many paintings of Venus, the Roman goddess of love and fertility, included a scallop shell in the painting to identify her. This is evident in Botticelli's classically inspired The Birth of Venus (also known as Venus on the half-shell).
One legend of the Way of St. James holds that the route was seen as a sort of fertility pilgrimage, undertaken when a young couple desired to bear offspring. The scallop shell is believed to have originally been carried therefore by pagans as a symbol of fertility.
Alternatively, the scallop resembles the setting sun, which was the focus of the pre-Christian Celtic rituals of the area. To wit, the pre-Christian roots of the Way of St. James was a Celtic death journey westwards towards the setting sun, terminating at the End of the World (Finisterra) on the "Coast of Death" (Costa da Morte) and the "Sea of Darkness" (i.e., the Abyss of Death, the Mare Tenebrosum, Latin for the Atlantic Ocean, itself named after the Dying Civilization of Atlantis). The reference to St. James rescuing a "knight covered in scallops" is therefore a reference to St. James healing, or resurrecting, a dying (setting sun) knight. Similarly, the notion of the "Sea of Darkness" (Atlantic Ocean) disgorging St. James' body, so that his relics are (allegedly) buried at Santiago de Compostella on the coast, is itself a metaphor for "rising up out of Death", that is, resurrection.
The scallop shell symbol found its way into heraldry as a badge of those who had been on the pilgrimage to Compostela, although later it became a symbol of pilgrimage in general. Winston Churchill and Diana, Princess of Wales' family, the Spencer family coat of arms includes a scallop, as well as both of Diana's sons Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry of Wales' personal coat of arms; also pope Benedict XVI's personal coat of arms includes a scallop; another example is the surname Wilmot and also John Wesley's (which as a result the scallop shell is used as an emblem of Methodism). However, charges in heraldry do not always have an unvarying symbolic meaning, and there are cases of arms in which no family member went on a pilgrimage and the occurrence of the scallop is simply a pun on the name of the armiger (as in the case of Jacques Coeur), or for other reasons.
State shell of New York
In design, scalloped edges or ridges refers to a wavy pattern reminiscent of the edge of a scallop's shell.
On the beach at Aldeburgh, Suffolk, England, is Maggie Hambling's metal sculpture, The Scallop, erected in 2003 as a memorial to the composer Benjamin Britten, who had a long association with the town. See Aldeburgh.
|This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (February 2008)|
- www.etymonline.com Note: earlier versions of this article claim the word "scallop" originated from the ancient Canaanite sea port Ascalon (modern city of Ashkelon, Israel). This error is probably due to the close proximity of the words "scallion" and "scallop" in many dictionaries. The word "scallion" has origins in Ascalon (see the same link cited at the beginning of this reference). Unfortunately, as of August 2009, Google search results for "ascalon scallop" indicate over 3300 pages now cite the incorrect information from the earlier version of this article.
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