02/03/2021 08:01 GMT+7 print

A day on Bay Canh island

Among the islands in Con Dao, Bay Canh stands out as one of the most pristine and beautiful places in Vietnam. Bay Canh island is the most biodiverse ecosystem in Con Dao district and also home to the largest number of sea turtles in Vietnam.

After a four-hour trip aboard an express boat to Con Dao, we took a motor boat to Bay Canh, a small island west of Con Dao district. Bay Canh island stuned us because of its amazing marine ecosystem which is a perfect combination of tropical rainforests on a high mountain, mangrove forests, seagrass beds and coral reefs at Con Dao National Park.

The sea surrounding Bay Canh island is strictly protected for research, conservation and development of marine biodiversity, including coral reefs and other marine species such as clams, snails, fish, turtles, sea grass and seaweed.


Bay Canh island is the most biodiverse ecosystem in Con Dao district. 


Scuba diving to see coral reefs in Bay Canh island. 


Tourists visit the mangrove forest by canoe. 


Bay Canh island plays an important role in conserving marine resources, especially
where sea turtles return to hatch their eggs and give birth and then return to the sea. 


Tourists watch how turtles are released into the sea on Bay Canh island. 

According to a member of the staff of Bay Canh ranger station, the park management board of Con Dao National Park started its sea turtle conservation in 1994, setting up five ranger stations on islands where sea turtles often lay their eggs. These stations function to study the ecological features of sea turtles using satellite tags attached to the reptiles, protect their nesting areas and move the nests to safe places as needed.

Bay Canh island is in Con Dao National Park, a Ramsar wetland of international importance and the first marine Ramsar site in Vietnam.
We reached Bay Canh ranger station at sunset. At night, Bay Canh island was very dark because all the lights were turned off to encourage the turtles to come ashore. We joined the Bay Canh rangers to wait for the turtles for hours, until finally at midnight we saw the big turtles slowly crawling ashore, digging nests in the sand and laying eggs. That was when the rangers’ job began. They counted the nests and the numbers of eggs and recorded the sizes, health and eggs of mother turtles each of which had a satellite tag attached. The rangers finished their work at sunrise. Their next job was releasing the young turtles that had been hatched in ponds to the sea.

Every year from June to October, more than 400 turtles crawl up on the sand in Con Dao National Park to lay their eggs. During peak season, every night between 10 and 20 turtles lay their eggs on Bay Canh island, 87% of which are hatched successfully. Over 150,000 young turtles have been rescued and released into the sea.

 
By Tat Son, Thong Hai & Files