Limulus Oil Seller in Kolkata

Sudipta Chatterjee

Sudipta Chatterjee
A street hawker selling limulus based oil in Kolkata

This picture was taken in May 2012 on the streets of Central Kolkata, West Bengal. I had been out doing street photography in my locality. Since I am very much concerned about conservation of nature and natural habitats, this shop caught my attention. I am a biology student and so I knew what these creatures were. These are live limulus or horseshoe crabs. Horseshoe crabs are rare marine fauna that have to be conserved. They are living fossils. A man from Orissa was selling oil extracted from such limulus for curing joint pain. He was also exhibiting these live specimens. I acted like a customer to the shop owner, hiding my camera in my bag. I asked the guy what exactly he was selling and what their function was. I also asked him where he got them from, acting just like a regular inquisitive person. He answered that it was “Samunda ka Bicchu”, that they extracted this animal and got an oil that relieves joint pain. He had a leaflet describing the oil, written in Oriya. I asked him if I could take some photos. He opposed, but I clicked some quickly before he could understand the situation.

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