The dragon is a powerful and sacred mythical creature in traditional Vietnamese culture.
According to legend, Vietnam continuously repelled invaders from the north thousands of years ago.
In order to defeat the invaders, the Jade Emperor who ruled the sky (Ng-c Hoang Th-ng) sent the Dragon Mother and her children.
They immediately thwarted an assault on the Eastern Sea when the dragons descended, and burned the enemies with fire and emeralds from their mouths.
The dragons agreed to remain in the mortal world after the war and assume human form to assist with agriculture and the expansion of the land. The legend says that in what is now H’ Long Bay, the mother dragon landed; her children settled in Bai Tu Long Bay. Some claim that the emeralds used were scattered in the waters during the attack, creating the islands that you see today.
The photo at the top of this page shows the two bays on Vietnam’s northeast coast, about 100 miles (170 kilometers) east of Hanoi.
The image was taken by the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 on November 12, 2020.
H H Long Bay is known for some of the most stunning scenery in Vietnam, meaning “descending dragon”.
Around 1,600 islands and islets are included in this World Heritage Site, most of them covered with rainforest. Most of the islands are very steep and uninhabitable, so visitors fly by boat to explore their edges.
In the northeast, H’ Long Bay also contains Bai Tu Long Bay National Park.
There are 40 islands and approximately 2,000 plant and animal species in the park, 70 of which are listed as endangered species.
Including broad-leaved rainforests, coral reefs and shallow water zones, the park encompasses both land and water.
One of the larger islands in Bai Tu Long Bay National Park is seen in the image above.
Many fishermen practise aquaculture near to the sea, raising groupers, cobia, tiger fish, king mackerel and other cage fish.
Limestone is much of the area around the bays, with drowned Karst landscapes dispersed around the water.
In reality, the region contains some of the world’s most impressive karst formations, enabling researchers to study the area’s geoclimate history.
The Karst landscapes appear as columns with different characteristics of erosion, such as conical peaks, arches, and caves; some are 1,200 meters (4,000 feet) high.
As carbonate deposits migrated from the ground into the ocean, the limestone started forming around 340 million years ago. The limestone slowly hardened and thickened over millions of years, into the famous karst formations seen today.
Images from NASA Earth Observatory by Joshua Stevens, using U.S. Landsat data Survey in Geology.