They sell pen shells by the seashore

Nazir Sufari

IT was noon at Pantai Siring in Malacca. Four men were gathered at the fishermen’s jetty waiting for low tide to dig for siput beliung, or pen shells, which make good eating.

Luckily, the weather was mild.

Every day since early July, Mohd Irfan Budin, 33, and his three friends have been hunting for the molluscs at Pantai Siring.

Irfan who lives in Pulai in Merlimau, Malacca, sold nasi lemak and is a former body builder. The Covid-19 pandemic hit his business hard and he lost his income when the movement control order was introduced.

His friends, who were a bodyguard, businessman and oil and gas contractor, have also lost their jobs.

They literally stumbled onto the idea of catching siput beliung to earn money when one of them, who was catching prawns at Pantai Siring, stepped on one  

This gave Irfan the idea to sell the bivalves. A kilogramme sells for RM10 and the quartet can usually catch 25-50kg in five hours.

Many who buy from them are regulars, said Irfan.

But now the season is coming to an end, which means fewer of the marine creatures can be found. The four of them now have to spend more time combing the seabed for the tasty delicacies

Also, it’s a dangerous job that they do. They run the risk of running into poisonous sea snakes and jellyfish. Some of Irfan’s friends have been bitten or stung and ended up in the ICU in hospital.

Still, Irfan and friends are relieved because they have found a way to feed their families.– August 29, 2021.

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