‘Mid-birth’ for sea turtles in Con Dao

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BA RIA – VUNG TAU 3:30 am, Anh Thu’s group held their breath to watch the big turtles crawling up from the sea to the sand.

The beach at Hon Bay Canh is one of the familiar nesting points of the Green turtle population (Chelonia mydas) in Con Dao , where the largest number of sea turtles lay eggs in Vietnam. This is an animal named in the Red Book, with a survival rate of 1 in 1,000 after birth. To come here, visitors must apply for a permit at Con Dao National Park or go on a tour.

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Bay Canh Island, where sea turtles come to breed the most in Con Dao.

The spawning season of sea turtles is around April to October, the peak is from July to September every year. Le Hoang Anh Thu, 24 years old, working at an event in Ho Chi Minh City, recently had a time to experience breeding turtles and releasing baby turtles to the sea at Bay Canh Island. She followed a unit specializing in organizing experience tours, along with 11 other friends.

From Ho Chi Minh City, Thu’s group traveled 6 hours by bus to Soc Trang, another 2.5 hours by speedboat to Con Dao, and another short journey to arrive at Hon Bay Canh. “Our group was lucky because the sea was calm, even though there were heavy storms the day before. Due to the bad weather, we were the only group that day to go to Bay Canh Island,” Thu said.

ba ria vung tau, bay canh island, con dao tourism, help give birth to sea turtles, ‘mid-birth’ for sea turtles in con dao

Photo letter with tank crabs, only available in Con Dao.

Depending on the water, the time the mother turtles come ashore to lay eggs ranges from midnight to dawn. At 3 a.m., Thu’s group gathered at the beach to wait for turtles. Before that, they were carefully instructed by the rangers about the rules of observing turtles laying eggs. “We were told to just observe, absolutely not to touch when the turtle lays, not to touch the turtle’s eggs. The phone must turn off the flash, turn off the sound, walk barefoot on the sand, not make noise,” Thu said. .

Half an hour later, Thu discovered a mother turtle on the beach. Her group could only watch from afar. “At that time, it was still dark, we couldn’t turn on the lights, we all held our breath and looked dimly from a distance to see the big black rocks slowly crawling up the sand, but our hearts felt strangely happy,” Thu expressed. They can only get close, turn on the dim lights to watch when the turtles start to lay. “Turtles are very sensitive to sound, noise and light. Just when they are crawling up or about to give birth and feel unsafe, they will return to the sea, greatly affecting reproduction,” she explained. prize.

As Thu observed, it took about 15-20 minutes for the mother to dig a hole about 50-70 cm deep, then push each time to lay eggs, sometimes she had to stop because she was tired. They will then take another 20-35 minutes to fill and camouflage the hole, ensuring the safety of the eggs. Having fulfilled their motherly duties, they return to the sea. “Until the baby turtles are born, they will not return to the place where the eggs were laid,” Thu said.

The mother turtle that Thu observed that day laid more than 100 eggs. Talking more about turtle eggs, Thu said: “Tortoise eggs are small and round. The eggshell is thin and soft so that the mother turtle will not break when the eggs collide. This is asexual egg, inside only. there are whites that have not yet formed yolks. The sex of hatchlings will depend on the surrounding temperature. The higher the temperature, the greater the hatching rate of female turtles.”

ba ria vung tau, bay canh island, con dao tourism, help give birth to sea turtles, ‘mid-birth’ for sea turtles in con dao

Sea turtles can lay 100-250 eggs at a time.

4 hours after coming out of the womb, the turtle eggs will not be allowed to move anymore. Therefore, forest rangers are always on duty to carry out conservation activities. After the mother turtle returns to the sea, they dig a hole to bring the eggs back to the hatchery. In the hatchery, there is an area in the shade and an area in the sun, to ensure the temperature balances the sex of the turtle.

After that, Thu’s group also experienced the activity of releasing baby turtles into the sea. However, they are not allowed to touch the baby turtle’s body. The letter explains: “The sea turtles that hatch out will be immediately brought back to the sea to be released. Due to the high body temperature of the human body, which can easily cause thermal burns to the baby turtles, the stages of catching the baby turtles and putting them in the basket are all done by the rangers. . They use their own gloves or tools.”

Baby turtles will then be brought back to the beach where their mother lays her eggs, to gain awareness of the ocean. With an amazing natural locator, sea turtles can return to exactly where they were born to nest. That time can be up to more than 30 years.

Recalling the scene of the baby turtles working hard towards the sea and starting their survival journey, Thu could not help but reminisce: “There was a baby turtle born prematurely, weaker than other babies. But her instincts are very strong. Yes. Then I dragged myself to the sea step by step, but then I was hit by the waves. But I still tried, our group above even shouted and cheered. When I got to the sea, we must have been happier than her.” .

ba ria vung tau, bay canh island, con dao tourism, help give birth to sea turtles, ‘mid-birth’ for sea turtles in con dao

Baby turtles find their way back to the sea.

Witnessing the mother’s efforts to give birth and the baby turtle’s instinct to find life, Thu believes that sea turtles have taught her how to love nature. “If people do not join hands to protect, it is very likely that our descendants will forever no longer be able to see sea turtles,” Thu said.

Keyword: ‘Mid-birth’ for sea turtles in Con Dao