The all-female workforce is part of a visionary project committed to protecting the wetland forests. Now their challenge is to earn a sustainable living year-round.
“In the cool air of an April dawn, Marie Sambou, an oyster harvester, carves through the brown water of The Gambia River’s Tanbi wetland in her long wooden canoe. The size of Manhattan, Tanbi teems with life. The mangroves provide an important habitat for many birds and fish, which nest, breed and spawn in the protective, nutrient-rich environment. Snow-white egrets stalk schools of needle-like fish nipping through the shallows as curlews and hornbills whirl overhead, and higher still, vultures turn in lazy circles.
For the next six hours or so, while the tide remains low enough to work, Sambou will paddle along the forests on the riverbank, knocking hard, rock-like west African mangrove oysters (Crassostrea tulipa) from the exposed mangrove roots. It is tedious, physical work – and painful. Sambou has only thin gloves and socks for protection; her hands and feet are scarred from the razor-edged oyster shells”... words by JR Patterson – read more in The Guardian
All images © Jason Florio floriophoto.com
Jason Florio, award-winning photojournalist and filmmaker, originally from London, based from NYC for 18 years before relocating to The Gambia, West Africa, in 2013. He has produced images and documentaries for clients including The New York Times, Smithsonian, The New Yorker, Men’s, Journal, Outside, Bloomberg, National Geographic, Geographical, MIT Technology Review, PepsiCo, Amnesty International and the World Bank. He is a contributing editor for the Virginia Quarterly Review.