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Scientists hatch sea turtles on Cham Island

Having a diverse ecosystem with coral reefs, seagrass, tidal flats and stretches of white sand banks, Cham Island was an ideal habitat for sea turtles.

However, no sea turtle has gone to spawning grounds to lay eggs in the last 10 years. This is attributed to socio-economic development, especially the development of tourism.

Meanwhile, sea turtles have been falling into fishermen’s nets every year. In 2015-2016, 15 sea turtles were caught in nets, four of which were saved and returned to the sea, while seven died and became specimens.

The Hoi An municipal authorities have set up a plan to conserve and restore sea turtle species in Cham Island by creating a habitat for sea turtles to go to sand banks to lay eggs.

Chu Manh Trinh from Cu Lao Cham MPA said that it is reasonable to choose turtles as the symbol of the MPA.

In early 2016, the biosphere reserve and Cu Lao Cham MPA management boards set about to work out on the turtle conservation plan.

Besides the in-situ conservation method, under which Hoi An will reserve marine areas for turtles to lay eggs, the city will also set up a local turtle conservation and rescue center and implement the ex-situ conservation method.

In early September 2017, hundreds of turtles successfully hatched in Cu Lao Cham began their lives in Cu Lao Cham biosphere reserve. The turtles were created from the eggs brought from the Con Dao National Park. The 100 percent hatchery rate can show the feasibility of the ex-situ conservation method.

According to Le Xuan Ai, a renowned expert on sea turtle, this is the first time the ex-situ method was applied in Vietnam. The eggs were carried by air, land and by sea from a place 1,000 kilometers far away.

After the eggs arrived in Cu Lao Cham, they were placed into the hatchery area (prepared beforehand) where they were taken care 24/24 for reasonable treatment.

“The successful hatchery shows that Cu Lao Cham still has suitable conditions to restore and develop sea turtles,” Ai said.

Hoi An’s deputy mayor Nguyen The Hung said following success, the local authorities would continue hatchery campaigns.

“Both the in-situ and ex-situ methods will be implemented at the same time. The plan will create biodiversity and high-value tourism products in Cu Lao Cham,” Hung said.