The floating body of the giant turtle. Photo credit: VNA
The carcass of the legendary giant soft-shell turtle found in Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem Lake (Sword Lake) Tuesday will be preserved at the Vietnam National Museum of Nature, Vietnam News Agency has reported.
The Hanoi People’s Committee said it was informed by the lake’s management that the body had been floating in the lake at around 6 p.m.
Authorities took the carcass to Ngoc Son Temple on the lake before bringing it ashore.
They said the animal had died of old age and bad weather.
Passers-by had seen the carcass in the afternoon and informed the lake management hotline.
The authorities said the body had started decaying when it was brought ashore.
Affectionately dubbed Cụ Rùa (great grandfather turtle), the turtle is estimated to be more than 700 years old by Ha Dinh Duc, a renowned local expert, who claimed it was the last survivor of a species called Rafetus Leloii.
Several other scientists have said the creature is a 120-year-old belonging to the species Rafetus swinhoei.
Hoan Kiem Lake turtles have been traditionally viewed as avatars of the Golden Turtle God, or Kim Qui.
Legend has it that during the last two millennia they have helped design fortifications and thwart enemy armies, and produced a number of magical weapons.
It is said that in the 15th century the deity gave Emperor Le Thai To a magical sword to expel Chinese troops.
After his victory, the emperor returned the weapon to Kim Qui who sank back into the lake with the blade clutched in his beak.
Hoan Kiem literally means the "lake of the returning sword" and the Tortoise Tower pagoda on a small island in the lake commemorates the legend.