Can you tell the difference between a CALICO SCALLOP, ROUGH SCALLOP, BAY SCALLOP (top row), ZIGZAG SCALLOP (the FLAT valve and deep valve) and a LION’S PAW (bottom row)? I searched through our collection to find similar sizes and color examples of each species so that you can see the differences in shapes with the exterior (above) and the interior (below). But Ack! I didn’t mean to but I switched the ZIGZAG valves in the next photo so that now the FLAT side is in the middle and the inflated side is on the second row left. Sorry- silly me!
It’s so hard to show every angle but here is a way to see how different they are and how deep the valves are. On the top row right in the next photo, you can see how much flatter the BAY SCALLOP is from the CALICO (left) and the ROUGH SCALLOP (middle) and also how deep the ribs are in the LIONS PAW. I’ve written about both valves of the ZIGZAG SCALLOP before (CLICK HERE) but not about how the valve looks beside the other SCALLOPS. Denise Kisko (my buddy in the New York Times article!) asked me how to identify the second side of the FLAT ZIGZAG. In the next photo look at the shell in first row on the left, see the big shadow under the “nose” of that SCALLOP? It doesn’t sit flat on the table because it is so inflated and the sides spread out so much. That’s the second half of the ZIGZAG bivalve shell that fits with the FLAT side (middle shell).
This is how it looks when both valves are together when it is alive…
Here is a photo of a common CALICO SCALLOP, the deep side of the ZIGZAG SCALLOP (the other side of a FLAT) and a common ROUGH SCALLOP. Can you see that the middle shell is more “fanned” and the hinge area seems a bit smaller too.
Now you can really tell the difference by looking at the interior…
When I was looking at all of our SCALLOPS, I noticed how similar the CALICO SCALLOPS and BAY SCALLOPS look alike too. There are a few different ways to tell them apart but for me, this is the best angle to look at them. Now they look different, right?
So I hope this will help you just a little bit more to tell the different SCALLOPS of Southwest Florida apart. Top left to right…. CALICO SCALLOP, ROUGH SCALLOP, BAY SCALLOP. Bottom left to right… FLAT side of ZIGZAG SCALLOP (which I normally just call a “FLAT”, ZIGZAG SCALLOP (the deep right valve), LION’S PAW.
When Denise asked me how to identify the “other side of the FLAT”, her friend Penny Lang Yelverton posted a poem on the iLoveShelling Facebook page that she and Denise wrote while together on Sanibel. She said…
“Great month on Sanibel with my friend Denise Sheldon Kisko (NYT). We wrote new lyrics to the song My Favorite Things while waiting for a storm to pass at Gulf Side.
Sand dollars, starfish and conchs of all kinds.
Kitten paws, scallops are some common finds.
Sunglasses, sunscreen and lip balm galore,
Keep you from burning so you can shell more.
Lions paws, tulips, junonia’s so fine.
Worm shells and murex are also good finds.
Blind Pass and Bowmans and Gulf Side seashore,
These are the beaches we shellers adore!
When the rain comes,
When the waves crash,
We don’t even mind.
We’ll keep on shelling for our favorite finds.
We must be out of……
I love this! Thank you Penny and Denise! You inspired me and made it fun to start sorting my SCALLOPS.
Thank you so much for showing me the differences with the scallops! You really can see the difference when you flip them over! Now that I have a visual, the next time I’m on Sanibel I’ll be on the hunt not just for the “flat” side but the other side as well! I remember another post you did when Clark found the white side and you said its hard to find! But, thats ok, I sure do love the hunt!
So glad you like our song! Penny and I had so much fun writing it! Along with a few laughs!
Great post! I liked seeing both sides of the zig zag scallop. Because the colors are so different I wouldn’t have put them as one. But then the others are different in colors also. But they do compliment one another.
Now I have to go and identify my scallops. I know I don’t have a pair of zig zag scallops.
Thanks Pam :-)
Pam, My favorite posts are the ones where you show me how to identify different types of shells. This post was fantastic! I always get confused between rough scallops, bay scallops, and calico scallops, so now I hope I will be able to tell the difference. Thank you for teaching me new things every day! I love the lemon pectens in your scallop collection. It is my dream to find one of those someday!
this is a great post, thanks! on our first trip to Sanibel a few years ago we found oodles of scallop shells. it will be fun to go through them now to see what all we got. we’ll be there in 18 days!!!
Ken and I love your educational posts. The subtle differences that you point out, that aren’t always found in the shell books are so helpful. I too will be re-sorting my boxes of scallops. What I do wonder about is what causes the wide range of color variations within a species?
super post it helps me see the difference and understand the real way to look at them.counting down till we get there.
Thanks for another educational lesson on Scallop Shells, Pam. Loved it. One question tho’ and it may be a dumb one. Is the Bay Scallop edible? In the grocery stores here there are the large Sea Scallops and then the small Bay Scallops. Are the Bay Scallop shells you are showing the edible kind? Or are those different? Just wondering….
Hi Christine! Yes, these are normally the edible kind of bay scallops. Up in the northern west coast of Florida, they have seasons for scalloping for bay scallops. that would be fun!
YES! Would be great and lots of fun to go “scalloping” and then FEAST!!!!! Just let me know…I’ll be there with bells, I mean, nets or scoops, or whatever it takes to get us some Bay Scallops! LOL
Very nice research, Pam. I would like to share my favorite hint for identifying rough scallops. If the shell is not overly beach-worn, when you run the tip of your finger up the ribs of the shell it will feel rough like a cat’s tongue. Isn’t that cool! Do you have any Scaly Scallops that you could add to this wonderfully fun and educational segment? I have only found 3, and they are my favorites; their color patterns are so delicate. Again, thanks for this shellicious article!
Cool! I think we all love scallops — Sanibel has so many pretty ones! So Pam, did you guys find a whole zigzag scallop? Both valves attached?
Naaaah- dang. I wish. These were 2 different halves that were the same size so I could show it in a photo. Its so rare that we even find the one half, that it would be spectacsheller if we found both together still…. one day maybe?
Oh those two valves fit together pretty well, so I wondered! But you would probably have to go out on a commercial scallop boat to find the whole ones. I bet the two valves come apart real fast after the animal dies. Still, you never know… Sanibel just might deliver one one day onto the beach whole. :)
Thank you. I will have to sort through all my scallops.
Did the same thing with the wentletraps after you pointed out that there are different kinds.
The poem is great. Can it be shared on FB?
I love to collect scallops too(my husband says I have enough). Now I have to check if some of my shells are bay scallops or right side flat scallop. Back in 2010 there was a frost in Sanibel and I found several rough scallop pairs covered with spomge. The MBSM site has a picture . Hope the shelling is good with the super moon. Pat
BMSM for the museum.
Pat, we were apparently on Sanibel close to the same time during the winter of 2010. I found multiple rough scallops covered in the sponge, which is most likely the reason that both valves were still together. On the BMSM website, http://shellmuseum.org/shells/shelldetails.cfm?id=193 , the pictures of the rough scallop in the sponge and of the yellow scallop are pictures of the scallops that we found during that time. I have not since found any of the rough scallops pairs on Sanibel, but I continue to look for them. Every once in a while the tides, currents, etc. are just right and some nice, but infrequent shells arrive on the beaches of Sanibel Island.
I keep looking every year too, but haven’t found any more. I didn’t think to take a picture before I cleaned them. We’ll be there Jan/Feb next year for 3 weeks hope for good shelling. Pat
Another nice post. It can be difficult to show the more subtle differences in the five species of scallops commonly found around Sanibel Island. For those interested, the 2014 Pine Island Sound Scallop Search is Saturday, August 23.
For more information: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2014-pine-island-sound-scallop-search-tickets-12276179383
Ooooo Yeah, I saw something about that in the news. Maybe we’ll do it! thanks MK
Pam, is there any way you could make a identification page for the seashells you have found in the Caribbean from all you travels?? It would really be a great help and allow me to learn more about those shells! Thanks!
Oh Lexy- that would be an awesome thing to do…. and I’ve been meaning to do it. Ack! I don’t know where my time goes! I hope to get it done soon and thank you so much Lexy for your encouragement. Hopefully that is the push I needed
I love finding flats! Made myself a gorgeous pendant with a large golden one.
Great post, Pam!
Thank you Bird! I really love to do these “shell differences” posts. I’m hoping to do many more
Thank you for the informative post. I learn so much from you! I, too, have trouble resisting a lovely scallop, and the flats are my favorites. Counting the days until the shelling cruise in a couple of weeks.
LOVE the song lyrics!!! We are counting down the days until our return visit to Sanibel in October. We have been moving, working on the new house, building stalls and fencing for our horses so they can come home and live with us! Crazy, busy times!! We will be soooo ready for a relaxing shelling break in October! Hope to see you then!!