QUANG BINH – Wearing two pairs of thick socks, adding a small bucket and a short shovel, Mr. Khat waded through the mud along the Gianh River looking for Peanut worm to sell for 1.3 million VND per kg.
For the past 15 years, Mr. Le Van Khap (54 years old, from Nui Thanh, Quang Nam) and many people from the same hometown have been going around exploiting Peanut worm. Wherever there were rivers and lakes, he stopped to search. But from Quang Nam to the north, this species is only found in his hometown, Quang Binh and Quang Ninh.
In Quang Binh, the Peanut worm lives in swampy areas from the Gianh estuary about 10 km inland, along both banks of the river in Bo Trach and Quang Trach districts and Ba Don town. The mining season lasts 6 months, from after the Lunar New Year to before the rainy season. Only two weeks of exploitation each month, when the water is low.
Around 7am, Mr. Khat rode his motorbike to the muddy fields along the Gianh River, wading in the mud to find Peanut worm. This species lives in brackish and salt water, submerged about 40-50 cm. At low tide, the cave is exposed in the mud with very small protruding mushrooms, with holes in the middle of a toothpick or the tip of a chopstick.
Mr. Khat said the most difficult thing was to find a cave in the middle of the mud. Those who are familiar with the profession, with sharp eyes can recognize the cave, but outsiders cannot. When he first started his career, Khac spent 10 days walking along the river to recognize the Sa Sung cave. About three months later, he gradually mastered the profession.
Discovering the cave, Mr. Khat used a shovel to dig quickly, then followed the cave to dig vertically or obliquely. “If digging is not fast and decisive, the Peanut worm will retreat to a cave one meter deep and cannot be caught,” explained Mr. Khac.
Seeing the worm, Mr. Khat quickly shoved his hand into the mud, pulling it quickly or else he would lose his bait. Despite his experience, many times he lost his prey. The caves did not catch them, about a week later he would return.
“Sometimes there are rocks, glass, sharp objects, so my hands are cut. This profession is still soaked in water and sunbathing all day. Many days when the water drops, at night we have to wear mining lights, and then we are doing rainstorms, thunder,” Mr. Khat said. However, Mr. Khat does not wear protective gear, because his bare hands will feel, easier to catch worship.
After about two hours of searching in the swamp, Mr. Khat moved to an area with many reefs and oysters. This area is difficult to exploit, there is a high risk of cutting limbs, but in return, the Peanut worm are much larger and larger.
More than a decade ago, when he first set foot in Quang Binh, Mr. Khat said a lot of devotion, just standing in one place was also “tired”. Every time he went to Quang Binh, he brought back to his hometown a whole load of dried Peanut worm. Gradually this species became more and more scarce.
In the adjacent mudflats, Mr. Nguyen Van Cuong, 32 years old, from Nui Thanh district, Quang Nam is also exploiting wormwood. Mr. Cuong said that they do the same job, but each person goes to a new yard to get a lot, talking together is more fun but competitive, so the output will be less.
Each month, the two stay in Quang Binh for about 15 days. The rest of the days when the tide is high, they return to their hometown to find an alluvial ground where the water is low to continue doing their jobs.
When first caught, Sa Peanut worm grow up to 30-40 cm long, and after a long time, they will shrink to the span of a hand. After half a day of sunbathing, Mr. Khat brought back a few ounces of fresh morning glory. Going to the Gianh River, Mr. Khat used a metal rod to turn the intestines, discarding all the sand and intestines inside, only taking the outer shell. The finished products obtained by Mr. Khat are imported to the restaurant for 1.3 million VND/kg, if dried, they will be sold for 3.8 million VND.
Mr. Tran Thanh Luong (43 years old, residing in Quang Thuan, Ba Don town), the owner of a restaurant, said that Sa worm is processed into many dishes such as stir-fried pineapple, onion, porridge…, priced at 250,000-VND. 300,000 VND per plate. Fresh goods will be crunchy and sweet, while dried goods will be chewy, sweet and fragrant through fire. Many visitors to Quang Binh also buy dried wormwood as gifts.
There are fewer and fewer Sa Devons, so the future of people like Mr. Khat and Mr. Cuong is difficult to determine. They only know how to exploit until they have enough health, or until they can’t find them, they will switch to other livelihoods.
Peanut worm scientific name is Sipunculus nudus , which is an earthworm that lives on coastal sandy beaches where the tide is high and low. Since ancient times, sage has been exploited to offer to kings and mandarins, only the rich are eligible to use it. According to oriental medicine, this worm can be used as a health supplement.
(According to vnexpress )
Keyword: Hunting Peanut worm in Gianh river