An annual campaign initiated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to protect sea turtles during their hatching season has recently wrapped up on different islands and in coastal areas across Vietnam, with volunteers joining hands with park rangers to protect the endangered species' eggs.
This year’s project, the fifth edition since the initiative was first launched in 2015, ran from July to August, the birth season of sea turtles, in several places where the reptiles lay eggs, including Con Dao, one of Vietnam’s most magnificent islands.
The project’s volunteers cooperated with Con Dao Nation Park and local rangers to inspect the newly-laid eggs, count them, and transfer them to the manmade sand holes for incubation from dusk till dawn.
The entire process had to be done outdoors and in the dark as sea turtles have a fear of artificial light.
Con Dao is an island district administered by the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau.
|Volunteers dig sand holes to protect sea turtles from natural enemies and disasters on Con Dao Island. Photo: Hoang Huy / Tuoi Tre|
Thang, a ranger on Con Dao Islands, said that volunteers had spent dozens of sleepless nights on the lookout for natural enemies, such as salamanders or snakes, which typically attempt to eat the eggs at night.
Ai Co, one of the volunteers, expressed her excitement about the project, explaining that it inspires environmental awareness among people of all ages from across Vietnam, particularly youth, and establishes new connections between volunteers and local islanders.
“Contributing to preserving these gifts from the sea is the most amazing thing I have ever done,” Co, a senior college student from Ho Chi Minh City, said.
|Volunteers pose for a photo with local rangers on Con Dao Islands. Photo: Hoang Huy / Tuoi Tre|
Aside from conserving sea turtles, IUCN volunteers participated in beach clean-up campaigns with islanders to collect plastic and domestic waste from the shore in order to help restore Con Dao’s white sand beaches and emerald waters.
The increasing amount of plastic waste has been an alarming issue for both Con Dao administrators and the sea turtle rescue station on the islands, as the garbage not only affects tourism but also poses dangers to the local food supply, while contributing to the extinction of sea turtles.
Nearly all species of sea turtles are classified as endangered, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
Slaughtered for their eggs, meat, skin and shells, sea turtles suffer from poaching and over-exploitation.
They also face habitat destruction and accidental capture in fishing gear.
|Volunteers clean up plastic waste along the seashore and rock reef on Con Dao Islands. Photo: Hoang Huy / Tuoi Tre|