Scallop - Pecten Maximus

Phylum - Mollusca

Class - Pelecypoda

Order - Ostreida

Family - Pectinidae

Genus - Pecten

Species - Maximus

Size - Body Length : Up to 160mm

Also known as the King scallop, Giant scallop, escallop and Coquille St. Jacques.


Usually found in a shallow depression in the seabed. Prefers areas of clean firm sand, fine or sandy gravel and may occasionally be found on muddy sand. Distribution in this species is invariably patchy.


Both shell valves are fan shaped with an 'ear' on either side of the apex of the valve. The right valve is strongly convex and tends to be off-white, yellowish, or light brown in colour, often with bands or spots of darker pigment. The left valve is flat and is light pink to reddish brown in colour. Pecten maximus grows up to 15 cm long and both valves each have 15-17 radiating ribs.

Key Features

  • Flat left valve, right valve strongly convex.
  • Right valve overlaps the left valve slightly along the margin.
  • Ears equal, with a small byssal notch in right anterior ear.
  • Right valve off-white, yellowish, or light brown, often with bands or spots of darker pigment, left valve light pink to reddish-brown.
  • Up to 15 cm long, each valve with 15-17 broad, radiating ribs.

Minimum sizes

Do not take Scallops of less than 100 mm.

Should not fit through a Scallop ring of 100mm diameter.

Recorded Distibution

Recorded around most coasts of Britain and Ireland, with only scattered records from the east coast of Great Britain.

Pecten Maximus recorded (•) distribution in Britain and Ireland

Habitat Preferences

Physiological Preference - Offshore seabed / Sealoch / Enclosed coast / Embayment / Open coast
Biological Zone Preference - Lower Infralittoral Upper Circalittoral / Lower Circalittoral
Substratum / habitat preferences - Coarse clean sand / Fine clean sand / Sandy mud / Muddy / sand / Gravel / shingle
Tidal strength preferences - Moderately Strong (1-3 kn) Weak (<1 kn)
Wave exposure preferences - Sheltered / Very Sheltered / Extremely Sheltered / Exposed
Salinity preferences - Full (30-40 psu)
Depth in Metres - 10-110 m

Need to measure Scallops?

Why not look at our Scallop measuring guage page.

Fishing Gauges by Alexander Pollock
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