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Bay Scallop – Species Overview

Argopecten irradians

Market Name: Bay Scallop
Scientific Name: Argopecten irradians
Common Names: Cape Cod, Cape, Long Island or Peconic scallop, China bay, Atlantic bay scallop.
French Name: Pecten
German Name: Kammuschel
Italian Name: Ventaglio
Japanese Name: Itayagai, Hotate
Spanish Name: Vieira
Sustainability: Ocean Wise Seafood


Argopecten irradians, formerly classified as Aequipecten irradians, common names Atlantic bay scallop or bay scallop, is a marine bivalve mollusk in the family Pectinidae, a species of scallop. An edible saltwater clam, it is native to the northwest Atlantic from Cape Cod to the Gulf of Mexico.

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Unlike most bivalves, which are oblong or oval, the corrugated shell of the bay scallop is almost perfectly circular. The bay scallop has a strong hinge muscle within the shell but does not have a foot for digging or a siphon for water intake. Along the edge, or mantle, of bay scallop shells are 30 to 40 bright blue eyes. Each eye has a lens, retina, cornea, and optic nerve, enabling it to see movements or shadows and to detect predators. Along the edge of the mantle are tentacles containing cells sensitive to chemicals in the water; these cells help the bay scallop react to its environment.

Where They Live

These scallops are typically found in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean.


This species of scallop used to support a large wild fishery on the East Coast of the United States, but since the 1950s it has decreased greatly. This is apparently the result of several negative influences, one of which is a reduction in sea grasses (to which bay scallop spat attach) due to increased coastal development and concomitant nutrient runoff. By contrast, the Atlantic sea scallop (Placopecten magellanicus) is at historically high levels of abundance because the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act of 2006 put a limit on catch numbers and lead to a recovery from overfishing.

Scallops aquaculture is currently being practiced in Florida They were introduced into China for the 1980s and are the basis of a vibrant aquaculture industry in that country and attempted elsewhere.

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