A whole new world, well an underwater world… the amazing marine life in Tubbataha!
One of the most diverse marine ecological systems in the world, the Tubbataha Reef is part of the Coral Triangle which is home to the world’s 75 percent of corals and at least 40% of the world’s fish. Studies show that the Coral Triangle is relatively resilient to climate change.
The Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is located in the center of Sulu Sea, and includes the Tubbataha and Jessie Beazley Reefs. It spans a protected area of more that 100,000 hectares of high quality marine habitats. It covers three atolls and a very large area of the deep sea.
According to the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, the area is home specifically to 600 species of fish, 360 species of corals (about half of all coral species in the world), 11 species of sharks, 13 species of dolphins and whales, 100 species of birds, and Hawksbill and Green Sea Turtles.
The History of Tubbataha
The name “Tubbataha” was derived from Samal language which means “long reef exposed at low tide”. The Samal people are seafaring people of Mindanao who would frequently visit the area and fish at the area.
But the closest settlement in the reef park is the island of Cagayancillo of Palawan. The Cagayanons would traditionally sail to the area using their native pangko (boats) during summer to fish at Gusong (their local name for Tubbataha).
With the increase in technology and fishing methods, the Tubbataha Reef became a favorite fishing grounds for many Filipinos in the 1960s to 1980s. But unfortunately some fishermen resorted to destructive methods like cyanide and dynamite fishing.
In response to public clamor to protect and preserve the area because of its great ecological importance, the late President Corazon Aquino declared Tubbataha as the first national marine park in 1988.
In 1993, the Tubbataha was inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Another recognition to the reef’s outstanding universal value to biological diversity and its strong regard to its conservation.
Why is Tubbataha the single most important reef system in the Philippines?
Right at the heart of the largest water feature inside the archipelago, the health of the Tubbataha Reef affects the sustainability of fisheries in surrounding provinces (Palawan, Panay, Negros, Northern Mindanao). Thus preserving and conserving the Tubbataha Reef also serves as means to provide food and livelihood to hundreds of thousands of Filipinos.
Tourism in Tubbataha Reef
The Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is gaining attraction from environmentally-conscious travelers and adventurers. With proper guidance and supervision from the National Marine Park.
According to CNN Travel, the Tubbataha Reef is considered as one of the best diving sites in the world.
Photos: Department of Agriculture
Feature Photo from Philippines’ Finest Blog