The flame scallop, Lima scabra, is a brightly-coloured bivalve, and although it can ‘swim’ like a scallop, it is more closely related to a sessile clam.
Its tentaculated mantle is commonly flame red and quite the standout on the reef. Usually found in crevices in 20- to 100-foot depths, these creatures will flee magnificently by quickly opening and closing their shells like a golf clap.
Such flamboyant bivalves are very popular with aquarium enthusiasts, despite typically dying in less than six months in captivity.
Although flame scallops are becoming a rare sight on Cayman’s reefs, the species is considered abundant in Florida, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean.
Tom Byrnes is the owner/operator of Cayman Marine Lab. He acquired his Coast Guard Captain’s Licence when he was a teenager and worked as a commercial fisherman in his youth. He got his first diving certificate in 1974 with the YMCA. He has worked in the local dive industry for more than 35 years and has a PhD in marine biology.