|A panoramic shot of a grouping of fishing homes near the waters of the Gulf of Thailand, taken from a bridge|
Raise your hand if you remember the last installment of my trip report about my visit to Thailand. Hmmm... I didn't think so. The last installment was at the end of October last year, so it's been a couple of months. I'd feel guilty about that but I did mention it may or may not ever find a proper conclusion, and it's a collection of stories and observations so it's not as if it's going to spoil, I suppose. Nevertheless, here's part 29 - the oyster farmers of the Chantaburi area.
|The oysters grow mainly on the poles standing out of the water, but they're not fussy...|
The Chantaburi area is home to nearly 1,000 oyster breeding farms; about half the number of the largest area, in Chonburi. Those figures are old, so those figures are undoubtedly larger now. There are over 6,000 in Thailand, mainly on the gulf areas, but also on the Andaman Sea side.
|More detail of the growing area|
You'll see groupings of them growing on square cement posts in more professional farms, but you'll also see many areas with them growing on bamboo posts (or anything else that stays still enough) where the river waters intermingle with that in the gulf of Thailand. They can produce around a ton per rai (.4 of an acre) per year, if it's done right; the average farm in this area being about 2 rai - just over 3/4 of an acre.
The oysters you're likely to see there are of the crassostrea (true oyster) genus, a part of the rhizophorae family, if I've been advised correctly. These are "eating" oysters, and not "pearl" oysters. The two most abundant types grown here are the crassostrea belcherie and the crassostrea commercialis.
|Other nets rest above the farming areas|
While I'd seen them growing naturally in areas of the slightly brackish waters of mangrove groupings they're abundantly harvested by fishing families in the open waters near Chantaburi. Any time you're heading over a bridge or happen to be near any water flowing to the gulf you'll see boat tie-ups and/or shacks and homes where the poles and nets are set into the bottom and the shellfish grow.
My guess is it's not easy work - not much of the fishing industry is - but it's honest work, and that's what counts, I suppose. These pictures were taken in a couple of different spots as we rode around one afternoon.