Kelp Scallop, Leptopecten latiauratus

Leptopecten latiauratus, the common name being the kelp scallop, is a small saltwater clam, a bivalve mollusk belonging to the family Pectinidae. It resides in water up to 850 feet deep. Similar to other scallops, it has many small primitive eyes around the rim of its mantle and escapes its predators by jet propulsion.

The shell can be anywhere between 3 to 5 centimeters in size. It is mostly circular with two flat auricles or ears that extend off of the hinge. It usually has ridges that radiate out from the hinge and towards the mantle. Some of them also have ribs that are perpendicular to the ridges. The shell is extremely thin compared to most bivalves, with one side extending out more so than the other. Some of the common colors seen in these scallops are orange, brown, red, and black.

Around the edges of the mantle are about twenty eyes on top and another twenty eyes on the bottom. The animal also has roughly 50, 1 to 5 millimeter, somewhat transparent tentacles on each side of the rim of the mantle. This particular species has not been extensively studied, but based on the Queen Scallop, a different member of its family, the tentacles are believed to contain chemical sensors that are used to detect predation.

The scallop can be found from Point Reyes, California south to Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, and Gulf of California, Mexico.

It lives from the low intertidal zone to a depth of 850 feet. It attaches to kelp, hard objects such as rocks or oil well rigs or invertebrates such as hydroids utilizing byssal threads.

Image Caption: Leptopecten latiauratus (Kelp Scallop) found at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve on 2012-11-24. This one is orange, its mantle is open, and some eyes are visible. Credit: Scott Andrew Snow/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)