Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Fireworks in the tanks!

Murky Round Tank

Sunday was an exciting day for staff and visitors as the Spiny Pink Scallops (Chlamys hastata) began spawning around 3:30pm! While we may not need any more Scallops in our tanks...it was still exciting to see the Scallops in action. What was most incredible was to see how they sensed the chemical change in the water and all began going at once! It is possible that we may see an abundance of scallops in that tank in a few weeks.

Spiny Pink Scallops, also known as the Pacific pink scallop or the swimming scallop, are found from the Gulf of Alaska to San Diego, California. Generally these brightly colored mollusks are found on rocky reefs encrusted with sponges. Scallops seem to have a symbiotic relationship with the sponge growing on them. The sponge helps discourage predators of the scallop, such as the sunflower star and other sea stars, from getting too close due to spicules from the sponge (if the scallop doesn't swim away first). The sponge benefits from living on an animal that can move. Scallops swim away from predators of sponge and usually swim into areas with good currents keeping the sponge from rotting.

Scallops come in a variety of sexes: dioecious (males and females are separate), while other are simultaneous hermaphrodites (both sexes in the same individual) and a few are protoandrous hermaphrodites (males when young then switching to female). The reddish tinge to the eggs is attributed to females while the males release white sperm. Eggs and sperm are released into the water and fertilized outside of the bodies. The fate of their young is left up to the tides, predators and weather conditions...which is why so many potential offspring are produced. If an egg is fertilized it will sink to the bottom of the ocean floor. After several weeks the juvenile scallop is born and drifts as plankton until settling to the bottom again by means of byssal threads. While we are unsure as to how old the scallops in our tanks are, age can be measured by examining the concentric rings of their shells.

View the video below to see the fireworks we saw in our tanks!


  1. This was so cool - I sent it to all m y friends.

    Thanks Allie

    Karen De

  2. Thanks Karen, I know you are our biggest fan!

  3. Wow--that was really rather incredible! Too bad they don't time it for the 4th of July! Great post, Allie!


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