Con Dao


Season to watch sea turtles laying eggs on Con Dao

Photo of Entry:  Season to watch sea turtles laying eggs on Con Dao

       Japanese expatriate, Fumihiro Aritomi, says he was excited and surprised to watch sea turtles laying their eggs at night on the islands of Con Dao, which is 180 kilometers from Vung Tau City and 210 kilometers from HCMC.

      Sea turtles and their lives attracted not only Aritomi but also other foreigners. The Con Dao National Park says many foreign tourists came to the islands recently to watch sea turtles giving birth and experience their world during daylight and at night.

Marine conservationists say Con Dao is considered the most important place for sea turtles to lay eggs in Vietnam. The best time is from June until September and the favorite site is Bay Canh, one of the islands of the Con Dao archipelago.

Documents state that around 400 female sea turtles come to nest on the beaches of Bay Canh Island every year. However, to see them requires time, patience and of course a bit of good luck.

Marine conservationists at the park say that sea turtles are sensitive to habitats and places they choose to nest. Some tourists stayed up overnight on Bay Canh for two nights, but they did not have any satisfaction.

The conservationists advise that it would be better not to stop the canoe on the beach where you want to watch turtles nesting and laying eggs because the canoe will frighten the turtles which go near the beach as early as 3pm to prepare to nest at night. So, get off the boat at another beach or on the other side of the island and then walk to the beach the turtles choose.

Turtle watchers are advised to avoid making noises such as laughing or talking loudly when they are waiting for the turtles to arrive from the ocean. Some turtles come to the beach but they do not lay their eggs before returning to the ocean.

Male sea turtles spend all their lives at sea. Only females come to a sandy beach to lay eggs. Females crawl to the beach and dig a hole with their hind flippers to lay eggs and then cover them up and return to the ocean.

Some of the eggs are unfertilized and the rest contain young turtles. Incubation takes about two months, and the length of incubation and the gender of the hatchling depend on the temperature of the sand. Darker sands maintain higher temperatures which decrease incubation time and increase the frequency of female hatchlings. When the eggs hatch, the baby turtles dig their way out and seek the ocean. Only a very small proportion of them will be successful, as many predators wait to eat the newly hatched turtles.

Sea turtles can live more than 100 years. After about 30 years of maturing, the females return to the land to nest at night and make from four to seven nests per nesting season.

Marine conservationists reveal the amazing fact that female green sea turtles usually return to nest at locations where they were born and return to the same place each year to lay eggs.

The tourism services office of Con Dao National Park organizes tours for visitors who want to watch sea turtles laying eggs on Bay Canh, which looks like a seven-sided polygon from the sky.

The boat departs from the largest island of the archipelago around 5.30pm for Bay Canh when darkness pervades the island, after tourists have had an early dinner. Turtle watchers wait until they see the terrapins coming to nest and lay eggs. 


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