An investigation to characterize the causes of Pinna nobilis population structure in Moraira bay (Western Mediterranean) was developed. Individuals of two areas of the same Posidonia meadow, located at different depths (A1, -13 and A2, -6 m), were inventoried, tagged, their positions accurately recorded and monitored from July 1997 to July 2002. On each area, different aspects of population demography were studied (i.e. spatial distribution, size structure, displacement evidences, mortality, growth and shell orientation). A comparison between both groups of individuals was carried out, finding important differences between them. In A1, the individuals were more aggregated and mean and maximum size were higher (A1, 10.3 and A2, 6 individuals/100 m2; A1, x = 47.2 ± 9.9; A2, x = 29.8 ± 7.4 cm, P < 0.001, respectively). In A2, growth rate and mortality were higher, the latter concentrated on the largest individuals, in contrast to A1, where the smallest individuals had the higher mortality rate [A1, L = 56.03(1 - e-0.17t); A2, L = 37.59(1 - e-0.40t), P < 0.001; mean annual mortality A1: 32 dead individuals out of 135, 23.7% and A2: 16 dead individuals out of 36, 44.4%, and total mortality coefficients (z), zA1(-30) = 0.28, zA1(31–45) = 0.05, zA1(46-) = 0.08; zA2(-30) = 0.15, zA2(31–45) = 0.25]. A common shell orientation N-S, coincident with the maximum shore exposure, was observed in A2. Spatial distribution in both areas showed not enough evidence to discard a random distribution of the individuals, despite the greater aggregation on the deeper area (A1) (A1, χ2 = 0.41, df = 3, P > 0.5, A2, χ2 = 0.98, df = 2 and 0.3 < P < 0.5). The obtained results have demonstrated that the depth-related size segregation usually shown by P. nobilis is mainly caused by differences in mortality and growth among individuals located at different depths, rather than by the active displacement of individuals previously reported in the literature. Furthermore, dwarf individuals are observed in shallower levels and as a consequence, the relationship between size and age are not comparable even among groups of individuals inhabiting the same meadow at different depths. The final causes of the differences on mortality and growth are also discussed.