Vietnam’s so-called kissing rocks, located in the very popular Ha Long Bay which attracts over 4 million visitors per year, may disappear very soon. The natural phenomenon, consisting of two 14-meter high rocks set next to each other and leaning over to one another as if they were reaching for a kiss, are at risk of collapse.
The risk was made clear by an expert report issued in July, saying that the rising sea level and fishing boats that come too close to the rocks have started to erode them in a dangerous way. Put concretely, experts have observed fissures within the rocks that need to be seen to if the the country wants to preserve one of its many natural wonders.
Ho Tien Chung, head of the Tectonic and Geomorphology Department of the Vietnamese Institute of Geosciences and Mineral Resources, also blames overtourism for speeding up the process.
There are many factors affecting Hon Trong Mai, such as waves, wind, water, tides, currents, plants and people.Ho Tien Chung, geologist
“Tourists can see the rocks that are precarious at low tide. The water level then is low, exposing the supporting foot of the rocks which are gradually being eroded, causing a risk of collapse if no measures are taken to protect and reinforce them soon”, Ho Tien Chung said in a statement following the release of the results of the study.
Luckily, the report also put forward a couple of possible ways to counteract the erosion. First of all, according to the experts, the boats passing the rocks should be limited to a speed of 5 to 10 kilometers an hour in order to reduce the churn. Tourist already aren’t allowed to approach the rock formation. To the same effect, local fishermen shouldn’t be allowed to fish around the rocks any longer.
The scientists also talked about introducing cement into the fissures of the rocks in order to solidify their foundations. If these measures aren’t put into effect, the geologists say the 20 million year-structure could soon be lost to the water. In a very similar way, the top part of the Thien Nga (swan) island in Ha Long Bay already collapsed into the sea in 2016.