Ha Long Bay islet at risk of collapse

Travel Guide

Ha Long Bay’s Trong Mai Islet: A Heritage in Danger Ha Long Bay, with its emerald waters and thousands of towering limestone islands, is a spectacle to behold. Recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site, it’s not just a natural wonder but also a testament to the Earth’s history and evolution. One such marvel in this bay is the Trong Mai Islet, known for its unique resemblance to a rooster (trong) and a hen (mai), standing tall and proud amidst the waters. Located just 5 kilometers from Tuan Chau International Port, it has become one of the iconic images associated with Vietnam.

Trong Mai Islet’s Eroding Support: Ever imagined the ground beneath your feet slowly giving away? That’s the looming reality for the Trong Mai Islet. Ho Tien Chung, the head of the Department of Tectonics and Geomorphology, has raised concerns about the islet’s growing vulnerability during low tide. The foundation that holds this natural marvel is eroding, inching it closer to the risk of a catastrophic collapse.

On top of this, a recent exploration led by Chung’s team uncovered several cracks on the islet. These aren’t just minor surface scratches but potential entry points for elements like water and wind. Ever spilled a drink on a piece of paper and watched it tear more easily? That’s precisely what’s happening with these cracks. They initiate a domino effect – triggering erosion, increasing corrosion, and thereby escalating the chances of the islet crumbling.

The Human Impact :Humans, with their insatiable curiosity and need for resources, have inadvertently sped up the erosion process of the Trong Mai Islet. Despite the risks, fishing activities continue unchecked in the vicinity of the islet, exploiting marine resources due to a lack of proper supervision.

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But that’s not all. The islet also faces challenges from ships, tourist boats, and canoes. Think of it as having guests over at your house but asking them not to touch anything. Despite not being allowed to land on the islet, tourists inadvertently affect its stability. Picture this: during a research trip, a cruise ship halted a mere 19.79 meters from the islet, causing a backlog of other ships behind it. The potential ramifications? Increased chances of vessels bumping into the delicate islet.

Erosive Effects of Tourist Activities: Now, let’s dive a bit deeper. Big canoes, carrying 4-8 people and speeding at 30 km/h, can stir up water columns reaching 40-60 centimeters. Larger speedboats, even from a distance of 100 meters, can create waves surpassing 80 centimeters. Imagine a pebble thrown into a pond and the ripples it causes. That’s the magnitude of disturbance these water movements bring, leading to the persistent erosion of the islet’s surface over time.

Proposed Measures for Protection: All hope is not lost for the Trong Mai Islet. Experts have put forward several protective measures, such as anchoring rocks, sealing cracks with cement, building concrete walls, and blending concrete with plastic fibers to combat erosion. Additionally, for preserving the charm and allure of the place, alterations in tourist routes, speed limitations for boats, and awareness programs for fishermen are being proposed.

The loss of the Swan Islet and Islet 649 in the past further emphasizes the pressing need to shield and cherish the Trong Mai Islet.

Conclusion and the Urgency of Preservation: In a world where nature’s beauty is often taken for granted, the perilous state of the Trong Mai Islet serves as a stark reminder of the fragile balance between human activities and the environment. The need of the hour? A harmonious coexistence that celebrates and safeguards our shared heritage.

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  1. What is the significance of Trong Mai Islet in Ha Long Bay?
    • Trong Mai Islet is famous for its unique shape, resembling a rooster and a hen, and is a symbolic representation of Ha Long Bay.
  2. How are human activities impacting the islet?
    • Activities like fishing, boat tourism, and marine resource exploitation are accelerating the erosion process of the islet.
  3. Why are cracks on the islet concerning?
    • Cracks serve as entry points for water and wind, escalating erosion and increasing the risk of collapse.
  4. What measures are being proposed to protect the islet?
    • Experts suggest anchoring rocks, injecting cement into cracks, using concrete walls, and mixing concrete with plastic fibers. They also advise controlling boat traffic and raising awareness among fishermen.
  5. Have any other islets in Ha Long Bay faced similar threats?
    • Yes, Swan Islet and Islet 649 are examples of islets that have been lost, highlighting the urgency to protect Trong Mai Islet.