Over 9000 sea turtles did not return to beaches to lay eggs in Vietnam

February 22, 2024

Sea turtles, the so-called “ancient mariners” of the ocean, have been navigating the seas for millions of years. In Vietnam, these magnificent creatures face both peril and promise. Let’s delve into their world, exploring their significance, the challenges they encounter, and the conservation efforts aimed at safeguarding their future.

Declining Populations

The once-abundant sea turtle populations in Vietnam are now dwindling. Factors such as habitat loss, pollution, climate change, and illegal fishing practices have taken a toll on these remarkable reptiles. According to a report by IUCN and IMER, several species of sea turtles are facing a concerning decline in Vietnam. Over 9000 sea turtles did not return to beaches to lay eggs. In specific, the number of turtles coming ashore to lay eggs decreased from 10,000 individuals per year in the 1980s to 450 individuals in 2019.

Why Do We Need Sea Turtles?

Sea turtles are not just fascinating creatures, they also play a vital role in maintaining the health of marine ecosystems. As keystone species, their presence influences the entire ecosystem. Without them, the natural balance can be disrupted, affecting other wildlife and fauna. 

Sea turtles, such as the Leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), are predators to jellyfish, which helps keep this species population in check. The Hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), whose favorite food source are sponges, are very helpful in maintaining a high coral cover on a reef as they “weed out” competition for the corals. As for green turtles (Chelonia mydas), they graze on seagrass, maintaining healthy seagrass beds that benefit many species and store carbon.

Sea turtle munching on seagrass

Sea turtle conservation efforts in Vietnam

According to SCMP, since the establishment of the first sea turtle conservation stations in Vietnam, rangers have recorded over 9,300 mothers arriving on beaches, more than 27,000 nests dug, and more than 1.9 million hatchlings released to the sea. Sadly, not many baby sea turtles manage to survive to adulthood due to predators, fishing nets, pollution, and poaching. However, there’s still hope. In 2020, over 700 mother turtles were recorded breeding in Con Dao, and the park released more than 170,000 baby turtles.

Moreover, many sea turtle conservation efforts have been carried out in Vietnam. One example would be IUCN’s continued efforts to help mobilize additional resources for sea turtle conservation in the country. According to IUCN, many volunteers have registered to join their volunteer programs several times, with the number of returnees rising steadily since 2014.

In recent years, sea turtle rescue and conservation work in many areas across Vietnam has also received attention. According to Khanh Hoa Online, dozens of rare sea turtles were rescued, cared for and released into the sea by the Khanh Hoa Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center. Con Dao has also become an important sea turtle conservation area of the world.

Sea turtle swimming in the ocean

Vietnam’s sea turtles face challenges, but dedicated efforts are turning the tide. By understanding their importance and supporting conservation initiatives, we can ensure these ancient mariners continue their journey through our oceans for generations to come.

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