The Cham Islands constitute a group of 8 small islands of Quảng Nam, which form a part of theCu lao Cham, a world Biosphere Reserve recognized by UNESCO, in theSouth China Sea in Vietnam.The islands are approachable from Cửa Đại beach. The islands are also recognized as Vietnam's national scenic site.
The islands grouped under the Cham Islands are: the Hòn Lao (Pearl), Hòn Dài (long), Hòn Mồ (tomb), Hòn Khô mẹ, Hòn Khô con (dry), Hòn Lá (leaf), Hòn Tai (ear) and Hòn Ông (east wind). The Cham Islands are under the administration of Tân Hiệp Commune of Hội An city in Quảng Nam Province.
Archaeologists claim that Cham Islands were first settled by cham people about 3,000 years ago.However, business contacts were established with other countries about 1,000 years ago. The Cham islands were used for transhipment to the mainland by the Cham.
Many architectural monuments dated to the 18th and 20th century are reported, which include Than Yen Sao shrine built in 1843 at Bai Huong, and Hai Tang Pagodas built in 1753 on the western hillside of Hon Lao.Small monuments, Dikes and basins to grow rice on terraces are also seen in the interior forest areas.
According to the report on marine resources survey conducted by Department of Fisheries, Department of Science, Technology, and Environment of Quang Nam Province and Nha Trang Institute of Oceanography, there are 135 species in 35 genera of corals found around Cu Lao Cham, six species in the sea of Vietnam were first recognized here. There are 202 species in 85 genera and 36 families of fish; and 4 species of lobsters and 84 species of mollusks identified.
Vietnamese Government together with Danish Government DANIDA funded the Cu Lao Cham Marine Park Administration which created Vietnam's second marine park. The expected zone for Cu Lao Cham marine protected area (MPA) included eight islands and 5,175 ha of water surface with 165 ha of coral reef, 500 ha of seaweed and sea grass beds, which provide habitat for various valuable fish species.
The water environment around the Cham Islands is an important fishery ground. Several marine products of high economic value, such as lobsters, groupers, snappers, craps, shrimps, and clams, occur in the area. The islands' coral reefs are an important area for shelter, nursery, and food providing for marine resources.
The weather is becoming increasingly rough due to "Global Warming" - even during "calm" season there are days of serious squalls when speedboats are unable to safely operate. The islands are 10 nautical miles offshore and by far the most hazardous part of the journey is at the river mouth which has an average depth of only 0.9 meters Spring Datum.
The climate is influenced by tropical monsoon and marine. If compared to the mainland, Cham islands climate is cooler. The different average temperature between the hottest and the coldest month is 6.7 deg. C. Cham islands are more humid than in the mainland. The average humidity is 85.7% and the lowest humidity is 81%. The average wind speed is higher than that in the mainland at 3.6 – 4 m/s. Typhoons and heavy storms mostly appear in the islands during September and October.
The coastal areas of Quang Nam in general and Cham Islands in specific have characteristics of semi-diurnal cycle, which means twice at high tide and twice at low tide in most of the days of a month. There are two periods of flood-tide and two of return-flow every month in correlation with the two periods of maximum and minimum amplitude - this is when flooding happens in Hoi An (or when a hydro-electric dam opens its gates and creates a flash flood!).
Dangerous floods can occur throughout Hoi An area from September - December during periods of heavy rains, strong onshore NE winds (prevailing conditions during September - December) and during 1-2 days around Lunar calendar days 1st and 14th of each month. Basically the river has no where to go as the ocean is forcing it's way inland (and average water levels are also rising each year!)
Global warming has resulted in rising sea levels and a serious loss of beaches - since 2005 approximately 30 meters have been eroded in Cua Dai Beach and in 2012 there is no future for resorts and hotels along the beach - all it takes is one good typhoon and the isthmus which extends from the inlet towards Danang will easily be breached. In 2011 the "calm" weather season had been reduced to mid-June thru mid-August - compared to at least 6 months less than 5 years ago
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