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Dublin: 9 °C Tuesday 21 October, 2014

100 million neon orange shellfish found in Scottish waters

The newly-discovered colony may require protection.

Image: Graham Saunders via Flickr/Creative Commons

A COLONY OF 100 million orange-tentacled shellfish, called flame shells, has been found in the waters west of Scotland.

This is potentially the largest grouping of flame shells in the world, Scotland’s environment secretary Richard Lochhead said in a statement.

The flame shell is like a scallop, but has bright orange tentacles that stick out between the two shells.

The neon orange creature is important because it builds nests on the sea floor that provide protection for hundreds of other species.

The flame shell reef, which covers 185 acres, was discovered during a survey of Loch Alsh, a sea inlet between Skye and the Scottish mainland. The survey was commissioned by Marine Scotland as part of an effort to identify new Marine Protected Areas.

The new information about the size of the bed will help officials decide if they should recommend the area for protection.

- Dina Spector

In pictures: Ireland’s ‘most unwanted’ list of invasive species>

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