Catching mussels for a livelihood

 Nearly 100 families in the central Quang Ngai Province depend on picking don, a kind of mussel, from the Tra Khuc River for a living.

Early in the morning more than 10 boats gather to catch the mollusk, which is used in local foods, especially soup and porridge.

People in Co Luy village in Tu Nghia District have been doing this job for decades.

Nguyen Tan Tuan, a native of Quang Ngai and the owner of the photo collection, said mussel catchers have to stand in the water for four to six hours. Some cut their feet on sharp shells doing this and others get cramps in leg, he said.

On average, a person collects around 20 kg of mussels in a day and sells a part to traders and cooks the rest.

The mussel harvesting is done mainly between February and September.

People sometimes work until the Lunar New Year, or Tet.

The Tra Khuc flows through Son Ha, Son Tinh and Tu Nghia districts and Quang Ngai Town.

The mussel catcher's tools include a rake weighing more than 10 kg with a 2.5-meter bamboo handle. The rake is attached to a strap to keep the catch. The person holds the bamboo handle with both hands and walks backward to catch mussels.

In recent years, people have been worried about their future prospects since the catch has been gradually declining.

People start working at 3 a.m. and earn around VND200,000 ($8.67) in a day.

The Tra Khuc River with streaks of mud that was disturbed by people catching mussels.

Mussel collectors prepare to go home at the end of a working day. In the background is the Co Luy Bridge, which is under construction

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