Biodiversity & Conservation

Variegated scallop - Chlamys varia

Chlamys varia

Image Keith Hiscock - Chlamys varia. Image width ca 10 cm.
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Distribution map

Chlamys varia recorded (dark blue bullet) and expected (light blue bullet) distribution in Britain and Ireland (see below)

Why do the maps differ?

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Chlamys varia is not listed under any importance categories.

Taxonomy icon Taxonomy Taxon English term
Phylum Mollusca Snails, slugs, mussels, cockles, clams & squid
Class Bivalvia Clams, cockles, mussels, oysters, and scallops
Authority Linnaeus, 1758
Recent synonyms None
Map icon Recorded Distribution in Britain and Ireland Widespread all around the coasts of the British Isles and Ireland.
Habitat information icon Habitat information Chlamys varia lives very low on the shore and sublittorally to about 100 m, either free-living or attached by a byssus. It is usually found on rocky substrata, often in algal holdfasts.
Text page icon Description Chlamys varia is known commonly as the variegated scallop. This bivalve mollusc is very variable in colour and ranges from white, pink, red, orange, yellow, purple with all shades in between, often in irregular patterns. Both shell valves are convex, oval in outline, except for the protruding ears, and usually up to 6 cm long. There are 25-35 prominent ribs on the valves, each with spatulate spines. These are especially well developed near the margin. Growth stages are sometimes clear. The shell is solid, inequilateral and inequivalve. The anterior ears are 2-3 times longer than the posterior. A prominent byssal notch is present in the right anterior ear, with fine teeth on the lower border.
Identifying features
  • Shell solid, inequivalve and inequilateral.
  • Anterior ears 2-3 times longer than the posterior.
  • Inequivalve.
  • Prominent byssal notch in the right anterior ear, with fine teeth on lower border.
  • Shell oval in outline except for protruding ears.
  • Usually up to 6 cm in length.
  • Colour very variable.
  • Sculpture of 25-35 prominent ribs.
  • Inner surface of shell glossy, often coloured the same as the exterior.
Additional information icon Additional information Chlamys varia matures as a male, changing sex several times during its life (Hayward et al., 1996).

This review can be cited as follows:

Judith Oakley 2009. Chlamys varia. Variegated scallop. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 27/11/2015]. Available from: <>