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Con Dao Islands: Home to Sea Turtles

Con Dao Islands is famous for its pristine waters and overall breathtaking scenery. And it is this untouched, natural state that makes sea animals converge to the area, especially sea turtles which are rare nowadays.

The sea turtles can specifically be found at Con Dao National Park, at Bay Canh Island, which is not very accessible and can only be reached by boat. Upon arrival, visitors are welcomed by Le Hong Doan, head of the forest management. Thick mangrove forests and insects chirping greet the guests. There is no electricity, only a torch or flashlight to see through the dark, but that doesn’t deter people from going to the island because of its unique beauty.

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The breeding period for sea turtles is between April to November, wherein a mother sea turtle lays a maximum of 100 eggs which takes 45 – 60 days to hatch. A sea turtle’s egg is about the size of a pingpong ball. Sea turtles are afraid of light and noise, so they only lay their eggs at night and during a high tide. They make a deep hole to lay their eggs in and then cover it with sand with their two rear legs. They then return to the sea to wait for the eggs to hatch.

There’s only an 80% – 85% or 1/ 1,000 – 1/ 10,000 chance of survival for baby turtles so after the mother goes back to the sea, wardens check the condition of the eggs and transfer them to a higher area because constant exposure to sea water leads to long-term destruction. Moreover, monitoring the temperature of the eggs can regulate the gender of the baby turtles, creating a balance between the male and female population.

Aside from sea turtles, blue land crabs also abound in the area, another hard-to-find species in Vietnam. It can weigh as much as 1 kg., but they are generally “shy” animals so it takes some dedication to catch them out and about.

Other outdoor activities are available at Con Dai Island, like scuba diving, although most people come for the sea turtle experience. It is the aspiration of the national park management and residents as a whole that this one-of-a-kind opportunity to witness and interact with the extraordinary creatures will not only give them something to remember by, but actually actively participate in preserving the endangered animals and nature as a whole.

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