Selecting crabs has gradually become a popular career during the autumn in China. With the opening of hunting season in September, there's a huge demand for fresh crabs till the end of October. Tasty and pricy crabs from Yangcheng Lake in east China's Jiangsu Province are everyone's favorite.
As big as the size of a human fist, Chinese mitten crabs generally live in fresh waters in the eastern provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang. Every year, Yangcheng Lake records a catch of more than 2,000 tons of Chinese mitten crabs, an autumn delicacy in China.
A 60-year-old couple from Suzhou in east China's Jiangsu Province lives on selecting crabs. Their day begins at 4 a.m. with catching crabs at the Yangcheng Lake. The crab-hunting couple has picked millions of crabs in the last 3 months.
The experience in selecting plump and tender-fleshed crabs has earned the couple 100,000 yuan (14,583 US dollars) this season via e-commerce market.
Yangcheng Lake crabs are regarded as a luxury by the Chinese, with a single crab costing more than 80 yuan (around 12 US dollars). A professional crab-picking master can earn up to 200,000 yuan (29,166 US dollars) in a crab season.
Another professional crab-picking master Zhao earlier worked with an ecological professional cooperative breeding base. His job involves selecting hairy crabs from a large plastic pot and carefully checking the back and front of the crab, and then arranging them into a variety of crab cages. Each crab only takes Zhao two to three seconds.
"Not everyone can work well in selecting crabs. It requires up to ten years of experience to judge the quality of a crab," said Xie Qijing, a manager of Chenglongxing Trade Company who cooperated with Zhao.
After the selection process, good quality hairy crabs are divided into male and female categories. Immature crabs are returned to crab farmers.
"The work is very hard," Xie Qijing said, adding that "about 250,000 kilograms of hairy crabs should be selected in four or five months. That is to say, there are millions of hairy crabs."
"Zhao has worked as a crab-picker for 18 years. He is very special and excellent with his rich experience in selecting crabs," Xie said.