Hatchery project to save sea turtles in Cu Lao Cham hinh anh 1A sea turtle hatched in Cu Lao Cham is released to the sea. (Photo: quangnam.gov.vn)

Quang Nam (VNA) – A marine project is underway in the central province of Quang Nam to save sea turtles as part of a local effort to protect the biodiversity in Cu Lao Cham (Cham Island) Marine Protected Area (MPA).

Following the success of the project to restore coral reefs in Cu Lao Cham’s waters with support from Mangroves for the Future (MFF), Hoi An city and Quang Nam are working to turn Cu Lao Cham into a place for sea turtle conservation.

The project aims to evaluate the ecological environment of the coastal areas in the Cu Lao Cham MPA where sea turtles used to nest and natural and human impacts on these areas, said Le Vinh Thuan, deputy director of the Cu Lao Cham MPA management board.

The management board has been deploying various conservation methods for this project, Thuan noted, adding that based on findings, the management board will come up with scientific solutions to improve the health of the beach environment, making a suitable habitat for sea turtles to lay eggs.

Hundreds of eggs laid by sea turtles in Con Dao National Park were carried to Bai Bac (north beach) of Cu Lao Cham where they hatched in the early September, 2017. This success alongside improved environmental protection practices have brought greater prospects for the restoration and conservation of sea turtles and biodiversity of the Cu Lao Cham MPA.

Given sand temperature ranging from 30-45 degrees Celsius and humidity at about 80 percent, the experts’ special care provided a hatching success rate of 95 percent.

Last year, more than 860 baby turtles were born from 900 eggs using the ex-situ conservation method, and all were later released to the sea. It is expected that some extra 900 eggs will be hatched in June and August this year.

For the in-situ conservation approach, the management board has been encouraging the community, from locals to domestic and foreign tourists, to protect the environment and develop the biodiversity of the Cu Lao Cham MPA, said biologist Nguyen Van Vu. It expects, by 2020, sea turtles will return to shore around Cu Lao Cham to nest.

According to Vu, in the past, there were nine beaches around Cu Lao Cham where sea turtles often came to lay eggs. But today, due to destructive human activities, particularly tourism, only one in Bai Bac remains a suitable habitat for them to nest.
Cu Lao Cham, 20km off the coast of Hoi An City, is home to 1,500ha of tropical forests and 6,700ha of sea featuring a wide range of marine fauna and flora, including many endangered species such as salangane (swallows), the long-tailed monkey and the crab-eating macaque (Macaca fascicularis).
The islands are also home to 1.26sq.km of coral reefs. The islands are the only location in Vietnam effectively promoting the non-use of plastic bags and the 3-R (reduce, reuse and recycle) programmes.
The 3,000 inhabitants of the islands, which include eight islets with vast ecological diversity, hosts about 100,000 tourists annually, of which 10 percent are foreigners.-VNA