The pitter-patter of tiny feet leaving behind barely any visible trails, heads for the gentle waves. Beyond the small waves was an ocean invisible to the half-blind turtle hatchlings upon the dawning golden light. The swells of tears blinded my myopic vision.
The Green Sea turtles are likely to become more extinct compared to other species listed in The Red Book(1). Turtles are placed at the top of the list of endangered species in Vietnam. One in a thousand may survive in nature to adulthood (35-50 years), old enough to return and lay eggs at the place of their birth. The Green Sea turtles chances of survival are depleted further by poachers and the illicit steep price of their eggs.
Working closely with Con Dao National Park, Six Senses Con Dao over the last three years have been the proud caretaker of 132 nests, releasing over ten thousand critically endangered newly hatched Green Sea Turtles into the ocean(2).
My husband and I had the chance of a lifetime. We were there to witness more than a few nests of Green Sea Turtle hatchlings released over the few days we spent at Six Senses Con Dao at the end of July.
My tears were mere drops in the ocean, pointless. The tears which saw an impossible future for those tiny tiny paddling feet in crystal clear water of Con Dao. The crystal clear water came at a huge cost, the cost of day and night labour to clear the beaches of garbage and human waste washed up the beach. The few years paid off with the return of The Green Sea Turtles. They return to bless us with their eggs, their future or is it actually ours?
The Green Sea Turtles are endangered because of my carbon footprint. Mine first. And it had taken me so long to finally admit my part in the problem. We forget so easily, as we live, we don’t like to walk, we like to drive down the road, we prefer to catch the bus, we like our plastic bags. We take mother nature for granted.
The privilege of taking care of the Green Sea Turtle nests goes beyond the unique experience at Six Senses Con Dao, the resort establishment aims to improve the environment around the resort with the hope of a cascading effect, involving those living on the island and the surrounding areas. Sustainability is obtained from the ground up. Education is the key to attaining a brighter future for the next generation. In the next generation we can instil the hope of a cleaner and sustainable environment on Con Dao and beyond.
It starts with free English classes, children of all ages may apply, children of all ages have the chance to learn, children of all ages have the chance to hold the key to their future. The future is not possible without our children. A bright future for The Green Sea Turtles is not possible without the education of our children. Yes, our children.
Seeing those small feet wading in the waves, pausing now and then to stick their heads above the water, take in a gulp of clean air, before they continue to paddle vigorously towards an unimaginable boundless body of water, it is dark, it is deep, it is fraught with danger, by a strand of intangible hope.
A strand of hope. A strand of hope was more than what I could hoped for in a lifetime.
Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm, the blogger, poet, and translator, was born in 1971 in Phu Nhuan, Saigon, Vietnam. The pharmacist currently lives and works in Western Sydney, Australia.