Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The People of the Mud

Suncheon Bay -- Home of waterfowl, crabs, fish, reeds, and tourists on the one side.

Tour Boat Thrill
© Mark Eaton

On the other side, the side that sees far less tourists, is the working side.  To me it is no less beautiful; in fact I think it is more beautiful for the reason that it is not commercialized.  It is a place where the inhabitants of the fishing villages that dot the coastal enclaves of Suncheon Bay toil on a daily basis to harvest seafood for everyone else.

South Korea experiences extreme tidal flows, and I've wondered if Poseidon plays games with mere mortals by simply pulling the plug to drain the waters that surround this peninsular country.  Alas, that is not so, 'tis not so. 

Suncheon Bay Workplace II
© Mark Eaton

The tidal flows, however, do provide many opportunities for harvesters to collect different species of seafood for consumer consumption.  During the low tide period at Suncheon Bay, vast amounts of mudflats are exposed.  The only way to travel across the mudflats is by a sled that a harvester propels with a single leg.

 Secured Sleds
© Mark Eaton

The harvesters, men and women of all ages, drive the sleds to a specific farm or collection area on the bay.  The seafood is put into baskets or buckets.  These baskets and buckets are the handlebars, so to speak, that allow the harvesters to successfully guide their rig to and from the farm located on the mudflats.  

© Mark Eaton

The people of South Korea who enjoy eating shellfish and other types of seafood do so because of the work of these harvesters.  

Over at my website I have uploaded an ongoing longitudinal study of those who harvest the farms on the mudflats of Suncheon Bay.  Do you ever wonder what happens to all of those shells after a meal?  I'll show you; it's a part of the project.  To view the study, please visit The People of the Mud.

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