Sea Shorts: Scallops Feed by Filtering

These tiny little critters are baby scallops!

Scallops are a type of mollusc known as a bivalve. This means that their bodies are compressed into a shell that comes in 2 halves, linked by a hinge at the back. When the scallop closes up its shell, it is protected from many predators. When it is open, it can eat – which (if you look closely) is what you can see happening in this video.

In the water there are lots of tiny organisms that the scallop likes to eat. When the scallop opens its shell, water moves in and the tiny plants and animals are trapped in the scallop’s gills. This is called filter feeding.

On some of the scallops, you will see shiny dots around the edge of the shell. These are its eyes! Depending on the species, scallops can have up to 100 eyes! But those eyes aren’t like ours. They have developed to see in places with poor light – just like on the ocean floor, and are actually very complex. With their many eyes scallops, can keep an eye out for predators and on the concentration of particles in the water so they can decide if it’s worth feeding or not.


Video & header image credit: Samantha Andrews/Ocean Oculus

The Sea Shorts series offers tiny glimpses into all things ocean and coastal. Read more Sea Shorts and other stories here.