Sea scallops can swim by quickly opening and closing their shells, allowing them to escape from predators. They also open their shells to filter plankton out of the seawater for food—the tiny organisms get caught in the scallop’s mucus, then tiny hairs called cilia move the food towards the mouth.
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Status and Conservation
Sea scallop populations have varied over the last century due to a mix of habitat degradation and overfishing. Since the 1990s, careful management of this fishery has helped the United States population come back strong. The United States has the largest sea scallop fishery in the world, with more than 60 million pounds of meat worth about $570 million harvested in 2019 alone. Three of the top ports pulling in sea scallops are New Bedford, Massachusetts, Cape May, New Jersey, and Norfolk, Virginia.