Species encyclopedia

Great Atlantic Scallop

Pecten maximus


This mollusc can be found on sandy/muddy beds between 10 and 80 m deep.

The great scallop is a hermaphrodite. It has a single genital gland, its coral, with a white (male) part and an orange (female) part. Mating takes place from May to September, with each scallop releasing several millions of ova.

Fertilization takes place in the open water. The larvae are carried away by currents. They metamorphose three or four weeks later and then attach to the substrate. Once they reach 2 to 3 cm, great Atlantic scallops stop leading a stationary life.


They bury themselves partially in the sediment and can hop around by closing their valves to quickly expel the water from their shells. This allows them to flee their primary predator, the sea star.

In theory, great scallops can live 15 to 20 years but, due to their intensive fishing, it is rare to find any that are more than 6 to 8 years old. Strict regulations apply to their fishing. To maintain natural stock levels, repopulation actions have been undertaken using hatchery scallops.

The main banks of scallops are located in Normandy and Brittany. The maximum size is 16 cm at the age of 7 years. The size considered to be marketable is 10.2 cm. The edge of its mantle is covered with light-sensitive eyes, but also with tentacles that can detect any nearby chemical stimuli.

The great Atlantic scallop (Pecten maximus) is primarily sold fresh. Prepared foods and frozen foods mentioning scallops tend to be preparations made using small scallops, typically from Asia or South America.



Species encyclopedia

For a better experience of our website, we invite you to increase the size of your navigator window.