The Florida Bay Scallop is a bivalve mollusk that grows and lives in seagrass beds in relatively shallow water, usually 4 to 10 feet deep. At one time scallops were reported from Palm Beach to Pensacola. Today, healthy populations can only be found in selected locations along Florida’s west coast—principally St. Joseph Bay, the Steinhatchee and Keaton Beach areas of the Big Bend, and the areas near the Crystal and Homosassa rivers.
Scallops live about one year before either dying off naturally or being eaten by humans, crabs, octopuses, or a variety of shell-crushing fish. They spawn primarily in the fall. After one to two weeks as plankton, larvae develop a small shell and settle onto seagrass blades. They continue to grow while attached to the grass blades by a mass of silk-like filaments called a byssus. They later fall from the grass blades and become free swimmers.
Unlike oysters and clams, scallops are active swimmers. They click their shells together, forcing expelled water to propel them rapidly.
Scallops are simultaneous hermaphrodites, able to spawn as either males or females, and are very fertile. To avoid fertilizing their own eggs, it is thought that individuals spawn as females before spawning as males. A single scallop can produce more than one million eggs per spawn.