CON DAO, VIETNAM—When Travel+Leisure magazine selected Six Senses Con Dao as one of the best secret beach destinations on earth, they chose to be in good company. Not only because it is the island’s first and only high-end resort, set like a gemstone in the pristine environs of a national and marine park, it has also become the top choice of some very picky and selective turtles.
In addition to the island’s scenic beauty and tranquility, guests at Six Senses Con Dao have the unique opportunity to experience the marvel of turtle hatchlings venturing down the beach into the wide and free ocean waters. Green turtles (Chelonia mydas) and Hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) are classified as “critically endangered” on the IUCN Red list of Threatened Animals. The waters surrounding Con Dao have the largest population of Green turtles and is also the place where they come to nest and lay their eggs most frequently.
In collaboration with Con Dao National Park, Six Senses Con Dao has become the proud custodians of selected clutches of turtle eggs, relocated by the Con Dao National Park team to protect the eggs from being poached from nests at neighboring islands. The resort’s incubation center, Let’s Get Cracking has since been home to many new hatchlings, where guests participate in the conservation efforts, by joining early morning releases, right on the resort’s beach. This 538 square foot (50 square meter) incubation enclosure can accommodate up to 40 turtle clutches at the same time.
Each Nest is Protected
To provide the best hatching condition, after being handed over by the Con Dao National Park team, each clutch is placed in a pre-burrowed nest in the sand. Each nest is then safeguarded by a wooden frame and personalized with a sign indicating date and number of eggs per clutch, so the team can keep track of each nest. This process lasts from 55 to 60 days and has a success rate of 83 percent. The process of hatching eggs takes place at a temperature of 82.4 to 89.6 F (28 to 32 C). The higher the temperature, the quicker they hatch.
Egg-laying season is usually from May to October and in 2018 as early as January. This has been an auspicious sign for both the turtles and the resort. By the end of 2018, the resort had received 56 clutches with a total 2,904 turtle hatchlings, out of 3,500 eggs handed over by the National Parks team successfully hatched at the resort. More than 70 percent of in-house guests participate every time a turtle hatchling release occurs.
Recently the resort welcomed a female turtle coming ashore to lay eggs. Ninety eggs were carefully collected and are now being hatched in the resort’s incubation center Let’s Get Cracking. It’s been a good start for this year’s hatchling season. It is expected that the resort will welcome more than 60 turtle clutches this year, giving guests even more opportunity to add this out-of-the-ordinary experience to their stay.
Passionate about protecting the environment, Six Senses Con Dao believes the establishment of Let’s Get Cracking has demonstrated its commitment to sustainability as well as its contribution to the improvement of Con Dao’s ecosystem. Green turtles are well-known for their remarkable ability to migrate hundreds of miles from their feeding ground to faithfully return to the nesting beach where they were born to lay their very own eggs, so this offers great potential for the resort to welcome back its baby turtles in the future.