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Øresund sensation: Rare species of clam

Øresund Aquarium — The unexpected revelation of a type of clam out in the straights between Denmark and Sweden has put the Øresund Aquarium in turmoil. Maybe there are more out there. A diver is to investigate the site, which is being kept a secret, like the lark's nest in Harald Bergstedt's song.

The great scallop, an edible saltwater clam with the official name Pecten maximus, is known for its Shell company logo shell, and as a soap container in 1990s style bathrooms, but now a specimen has also appeared in the Øresund, netted by fisherman Søren Jakobsen and submitted – alive – to the researchers at the University of Copenhagen’s Øresund Aquarium in Helsingør, where it now thrives in a small slightly opaque aquarium bearing a small red sign with the inscription ‘scallops’.

According to the Øresund Aquarium press release, the clam is ‘extremely rare’ in Øresund.

»I did not believe my eyes when I first saw it, and at first I thought Søren was messing with us,« says marine biologist and aquarium/museum manager at the Øresund aquarium, Jens Peder Jeppesen, according to the aquarium’s press release.

»Normally, we only find this species of clam deep inside the Swedish and Norwegian fjords and on the gravel and sandy areas of the northern Kattegat and we have never observed this larger species of scallop in the Øresund sound. Only the somewhat smaller species of queen scallop is common in these waters, and we expected that the salinity at the bottom of the Øresund was a bit too low for the great scallop to thrive. But we were wrong and it should be considered a sensation that it actually exists here.«

Great Scallops can – according to Wikipedia – grow to about 21 centimeters in diameter. The Øresund Aquarium’s specimen is 15, but it is apparent from the image from the Øresund Aquarium that the Pecten maximus is considerably larger than the  queen scallop with whom it shares its aquarium.

30-40 eyes and tentacles in long rows.

Just like its fellow animals of the same species, the great scallop is considered a delicacy. But if you do a little reading up on the overfished animal, there is a high likelihood that you will not be pickling it in good olive oil and lemon juice, frying it on a well-heated grill, or, like a Venetian, turning it on the frying pan with chopped parsley, garlic and the spawn of mussels, before serving it on a cleaned clam shell seasoned with salt, pepper and lemon juice and rounded off with a sprinkle of freshly roasted breadcrumbs.

Because the Great Scallop is a fascinating creature.

Pecten maximus has, according to the Øresund Aquarium, three rows of tentacles and 30 to 40 eyes that can be clearly seen when the clam is open. In short, it’s terrific, far more interesting alive than in its reduced culinary form, like the white contracted adductor muscle you will get served, invariably fried a bit too long, if not shrunk to chewing gum size and all flaky from being over-poached at the bottom of a bowl of pea soup.

And the Great Scallop can swim. According to the Øresund aquarium, several meters along the sea floor, if it is under attack or feels threatened.

The clam can be seen from the winter holidays 2018 (week 7) in one of the themed aquaria at the Øresund aquarium. Open all days throughout the holiday 10-17.