Production and consumption of aquatic plants has been increasing globally in recent years. Algae is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet and is also used in medicine. Cochayuyo seaweed contains various minerals such as phosphor, calcium, and magnesium.
One of the main components of cochayuyo is protein. It easy to for the human body to assimilate and contains high levels of essential amino acids, which occur in plant and animal tissue and is important for human health.
“It’s quite an easy job and I earn enough to support my family. I spend a few hours a day working in the ocean, and then I can stay with my kids for the rest of the day,” says Claudio Rojas Pita, who has worked this job with his brother, Luis Rojas Pita, for over 15 years.
Luis uses a stone belt to keep him underwater. He prefers using stones instead of a weight belt because it's cheaper and he doesn't have to worry about losing it. “If something goes wrong and I need to get to surface, I just cut the belt and leave the stones underwater. If I bought a proper weight belt, I wouldn’t want to leave it on the bottom and lose money,” he explains.
Meanwhile, Marilu Gamba Cardenas and her friends don’t dive at all. They don’t have masks or snorkels, so they collect seaweed with from the water’s surface their hands. It results in lower amounts of cochayuyo, but the women work hard to get as much as possible. They protect themselves from the sun with a few layers of clothes and scarfs on top of old, cracked wetsuits.