Making news

Sea turtle nesting season starts at Con Dao National Park

The sea turtle nesting season has started at the Con Dao National Park, the first in Vietnam to have successfully carried out a turtle conservation programme.
Baby turtles move to the sea after hatching in the Con Dao National Park. (Source: VNA)

The waters surrounding Con Dao archipelago, off the southern province of Ba Ria - Vung Tau, record four turtle species, namely the green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), olive ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea), and loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta).

The number of green sea turtles laying eggs in Con Dao is the biggest in Vietnam. Eighteen of the park’s beaches are nesting grounds covering about 24ha, and five of them have seen over 150 turtle arrivals coming to lay eggs annually – Bai Cat Lon and Bai Duong on Bay Canh Island, Cau Island, Tai Island, and Tre Lon Island.

All the species are currently on the brink of extinction and have been named in the Vietnam Red Data Book and the world’s list of threatened species. The country prohibits any hunting, catching, trading, transporting, or using the reptile and related products.

Studies by the park’s division for conservation and international cooperation show that the green sea turtle, about 93cm long, 84cm wide and 90kg in weight, nests all year round, with the peak season from May to October.

In the first four months of 2023, sea turtles have dug 50 nests to lay eggs in the park. Meanwhile, 134 nests, including those created in late 2022, have hatched. The forest protection force, volunteers, and tourists have released more than 8,000 baby turtles into the sea so far.

From 1993 to 2022, 11,643 turtles came to the park’s beaches to lay eggs. As many as 31,400 nests with 2,898,640 eggs were saved and successfully hatched while 2,238,597 baby turtles were released to the nature. The rate of hatched and released animals surpassed 80%, according to statistics of the Con Dao National Park.

The park has attached tracking devices to 10 mother animals. Results show that the green sea turtles laying eggs in Con Dao travel to search for food in the waters off Phu Quy and Truong Sa (Spratly) of Vietnam, Palawan province of the Philippines, Sihanoukville city of Cambodia, Pahang state of Malaysia, and the Natuna Islands of Indonesia.

It has also attached tracking tags to over 5,750 turtles laying eggs in Con Dao to monitor their behaviours and morphology. Findings show that each individual digs three nests each breeding season and return to Con Dao to lay eggs every three years. Each nest contains about 90 eggs which will hatch after about 55 days.

Here in the park, the forest protection force goes on patrol to protect the 18 nesting beaches every night, when turtles often come to lay eggs. They have also cleaned the beaches regularly to create conditions for nesting.

After being laid, all the eggs will be moved to a designated site to avoid adverse human and natural impacts and ensure a high hatching rate.

The Con Dao National Park was the first place in Vietnam to have successfully carried out a sea turtle conservation programme. It records about 450 coming to lay eggs and over 150,000 baby animals released to the wild each year.

In January 2009, it was recognised as the place hatching and releasing the biggest number of baby turtles to the sea in Vietnam./.