Scientists successfully hatch turtle eggs on Cham Island
The scientists behind the great achievement are part of a team of turtle conservators at the Con Dao National Park headed by Le Xuan Ai. This was the first time the ex-situ conservation method was successfully applied in the Cu Lao Cham marine protected area (MPA).
The 450 eggs laid by turtles on Con Dao Island were carried to Cham Island, where they hatched.
Ai and his co-workers decided to apply the ex-situ method after thorough research experiments.
On Con Dao Island, turtle eggs are considered ‘forbidden goods’, which illegal hunters sell to tourists at the exorbitant price of VND200,000-300,000 per egg.
In the last few years, during the implementation of the turtle conservation project, workers have to spend days and nights to watch over the egg laying grounds far from the conservation center.
October 8, 2017 was a great landmark for turtle conservation experts, when 420 sea turtle individuals were hatched from 450 eggs and released to the sea.
The turtle egg laying season every year is the busiest time for Con Dao National Park when it must take steps to prevent fires. The national park does not have enough workers for fire prevention and protection of turtles laying eggs.
In 2012, Ai and his co-workers tried to move eggs out of the laying grounds and discovered that the eggs that were moved within 10-17 days hatched.
In 2015, they came to the conclusion that eggs with a longer incubation time in the wild would have a higher hatchery rate. The embryos developed well in an environment with a temperature of 28-30oC.
The temperature in the park sometimes reaches 33oC. Scientists pumped sea water into the egg hatching area to reduce the temperature as they lacked fresh water.
Finally, Ai and his co-workers decided to hatch the Con Dao Island-laid eggs on Cham Island after gaining experience from the experiments.
This was a challenge because 1,000 kilometers separates Con Dao and Cham Islands. No such campaign had been carried out in Vietnam before.
After the eggs were carried from Con Dao to HCMC, they were divided into two groups. The first was carried to Cham Island by air, while the remaining went by land. This was done to discover the impact of the shipping time and means of transport on the egg hatchery rate.
At Con Dao National Park, the egg hatchery time needed was 51-63 days. Meanwhile, on Cham Island, the eggs hatched sooner because the temperature on the sand banks was higher than on Con Dao.
Marine Protected Areas given power to protect sea turtles
Scientists hatch sea turtles on Cham Island