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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Ha Long Bay’s Kissing Rocks Threatened by Erosion, Tourism

The karst sea rocks that give character to northern Vietnam’s famous Ha Long Bay are at risk of collapse. The recognizable ‘Kissing rocks,’ which appear to lean together like lovers for a cheeky kiss, risk collapsing due to geological instability and erosion. The UNESCO World Heritage site attracts millions of tourists annually and is integral to Vietnamese culture. A potential collapse would not only degrade the beauty of the limestone formations but also impact tourism, a key industry in the region.

As per a report released in July, rising sea levels and fishing boats traveling too close are causing the iconic rocks to erode. Illegal fishing and unregulated tourism are accelerating the process. At low tide, you can already see how the rocks’ supporting base is eroding, reports Ho Tien Chung, an expert working for the Institute of Geosciences and Mineral Resources.

The twin rocks rise out of the bay facing each other and appear to touch – or “kiss” – which makes them popular among tourists. But they are just the tip of the iceberg regarding the bay’s many enchanting islets, which have been a source of pride for generations of Vietnamese people. These limestone formations have lit the fires of imagination, inspiring poems, songs, and art throughout history. Their end is a tragedy for both Vietnamese culture and the global community of nature lovers.

Located in the Quang Ninh province, Ha Long Bay is home to hundreds of such tiny islets that draw up to four million visitors annually. These islets are known for their stunning scenery and rich cultural heritage, but the ‘kissing rocks’ have become particularly famous. They are not only a source of romance but are linked to love and devotion in Vietnamese folklore, with some even believing fairy spirits inhabit them.

Cement could be inserted into cracks in the islet to shore up its foundations, the experts suggested in their report. They recommended introducing new regulations to the bay, including limiting the speed of boat traffic. The report said that local fishermen should be encouraged to avoid fishing around the rocks to reduce churn, and cement could be inserted into the cracks in the islet to shore up the foundations.

The report urged officials to protect the rock formations with proper monitoring, constructing barriers, reinforcing the platform, and even considering relocating the iconic rocks. This is vital to ensure the safety of the ‘kissing rocks’ and other cultural and natural treasures in the region.

In addition to the ‘kissing rocks,’ the other karst formations in Ha Long Bay are also at risk of collapsing due to the impact of climate change and human activities. These include a mushroom-shaped islet in the bay, considered one of the most beautiful and mysterious in the world, and a cave, which is a habitat for rare birds.

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