The Hoan Kiem Turtle is a turtle that is sighted in the Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi, Vietnam. Hoan Kiem means "Lake of the Restored Sword", which refers to the legend of King Le Loi who received a magic sword from the gods to defeat the invading Chinese. Once he had saved his country, a giant turtle rose for the lake he was crossing, snatched the sword and returned it to the gods.
Professor Ha Dinh Duc of Hanoi National University has studied the turtle for more than a decade, and believes that it is a completely unknown species. He estimates the length of the turtle to be 2 meters and the weight to be 200 kilograms.
The Hoan Kiem Turtle has been identified by some as Rafetus Swinhoei, also known as the Shanghai Soft-shell Turtle. However, Professor Duc does not believe that it is the same species as the Shanghai turtle. Rafetus swinhoei is usually only 60 centimeters long, which is only a quater the length of the Hoan Kiem Turtle. Duc said that,"if we have cooperation from international experts and they determine this is a new species, it will be a significant contribution to world biological diversity. And since the turtles are right here in the middle of urban Hanoi, many people can easily come to see them."
Asain Turtle Conservation Network page about Rafetus swinhoei