Sea scallops are widely known for their iconic, beautiful shape, a fan-like shell with fluted grooves. The large marsh-mellow-sized variety is often called the giant sea scallop and the smaller one the bay scallop. They are plentiful in both offshore and inshore areas, ranging from Newfoundland to North Carolina.
This bi-valve mollusk has a reddish-pink upper shell and white or cream-coloured lower shell. They typically don’t grow much bigger than 6.7 inches (17 cm). The scallop is revered for its sweet, delicious flavour and melt-in-the-mouth texture.
Scallops grow quickly and reach reproductive maturity at the tender age of two. Most of their growth takes place between the ages of three and five when scallops commonly grow to 50 to 80 percent of their shell size and may quadruple their meat weight. Before this, they float freely as larvae in ocean currents. Only when they reach an inch in size do they become scallops as we know them. At this point, they sink to the bottom of the ocean and promptly proceed to feed on plankton. On the seafloor, they emit a glue-like substance that helps them stick to rocks.
Fish harvesters drag a tow bar attached to metal chain-link baskets along the seafloor to catch sea scallops.
This fishery uses a large cone-shaped net that is dragged along the seafloor to catch fish. As the net is towed at low speed, hydrodynamic forces push two "otter boards" outwards opening the mouth of the net and capturing fish in its path.