Sea scallops grow wild in the cold waters of the North Atlantic while bay scallops grow in shallow bays, either wild or farm raised.
Scallops have a delicate flavor and texture which compliments a variety of cooking methods.
Scallops are characterized by having two types of meat in one shell: the adductor muscle, called "scallop" which is white and meaty, and the roe, called "coral", which is red or white and soft. In most of North America, only the adductor muscle of sea scallops are eaten; the entire scallop is traditionally eaten in many cultures.
On the east coast of the United States, over the last 100 years, the populations of bay scallops have greatly diminished. This decrease is due to several factors, but probably is mostly due to reduction in sea grasses due to increased coastal development and concomitant nutrient runoff.
Another possible factor is reduction of sharks from overfishing. A variety of sharks used to feed on rays, which are a main predator of bay scallops. With the shark population reduced, in some places almost eliminated, the rays have been free to dine on scallops to the point of greatly decreasing their numbers. By contrast, the Atlantic sea scallop is at historically high levels of abundance after recovery from overfishing.
Scallops have between 50 and 200 simple eyes strung around the edges of their mantles like a string of beads. Their eyes contain two retina types, one responding to light and the other to abrupt darkness, such as the shadow of a nearby predator. They cannot resolve shapes, but can detect changing patterns of light and motion.