“Twenty years ago, I collected between 600 to 800 a day – now I’m lucky if I can harvest 150.” Adrian Torres holds a black, shining, wrinkled mollusk (Anadara tuberculosa) the size of a small chicken egg. It is known as the “mud cockle,” or here along Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, as the piangua.
That’s why Adrian and the members of his community association, Ajuntaderas, are known as the “piangueros” – the mud cockle collectors. They live within the Terraba Sierpe National Wetland, one of the largest protected wetlands in Central America. For as long as Adrian can remember, his community – and others living nearby – have depended upon the harvest of this gothic looking shellfish to make their living; a practice that replaced the harvesting of timber from the wetland’s mangrove trees.