Giant coral block a secretive Con Dao treasure

A big, white and rare coral block is under strict protection in southern Vietnam's Con Dao National Park, with few aware of its mesmerizing proximity.

During a trip to Con Dao Island in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province at the end of June, blogger Ngo Tran Hai An was able to join a scuba dive to the giant coral block, about 6 m wide and nearly 8 m high, in Hon Cau.

An said the coral block lies about 4 m below the surface and he was impressed with its overwhelming diameter.

The block is white and has a rough surface similar to fish skin. During the day, refracting light makes it sparkle amid the deep blue water.

This giant block of coral is in the strictly protected area of ​​Con Dao National Park. Therefore, very few know of its existence. An said he had to seek permission for the visit from local authorities.

This is the largest coral block discovered in Vietnam. It is located in Con Son Bay, about 1,000 m from Pier 914. In June 2019, this block suffered from bleaching as the rising sea temperatures slowly killed the coral. Fortunately, it has recovered to its original state.

Nguyen Van Vung from the department of conservation and international cooperation of Con Dao National Park confirmed there are many other coral blocks located around Con Dao.

Coral blocks here have not been studied and their ages have yet to be determind. However, based on the growth rate of about 1-2 cm per year, they are said to be centuries old.

Con Dao National Park covers a total area of ​​19,883 ha. In particular, the forest area is 5,883 ha and the ocean 14,000 ha. This is one of the most diverse marine areas in Vietnam with primitive coral reefs, mangrove plants, seaweed, seagrass, coral reef fish and crustaceans.

The coral ecosystem here is very developed with 342 species, 61 specimens and 17 families of marine creatures, playing an important role in regulating and balancing oxygen in the ocean.

Coral reefs are where aquatic species habitat, lay eggs and feed. In addition, they have an important task, serving as a second wall to protect Con Dao from storms and great waves.

Snorkeling to view coral is currently one of the most popular activities in Con Dao. Some popular tourist areas are Hon Sao, Hon Bay Canh, Hon Tai and Con Son Bay.

The price for snorkeling and viewing coral is VND60,000 ($2.5) per person. Canoe rental costs about VND2.5 to 3 million ($107-129). Each canoe carries about 10 guests.

Coral reefs here come in many shapes on the ocean floor.