8 Things You Should Know About the Tubbataha Reef
In light of the grounded U.S. Navy ship on Tubbataha reef that caused damages to at least 1000-sqm of coral, many nature and conservation advocates, not to mention our government and the concerned public are all left deeply alarmed of the long-term effects of this incident on marine biodiversity. But to prove just how important (and badass) this 7 New Wonders nominee is to the rest of the world (and why we should keep track of the story’s progress), World Wildlife Fund’s Gregg Yan lists 8 things about our Tubbataha National Marine Park.
8 It was formed from the eruption of undersea volcanoes nearly 15 million years ago
Tubbataha or “long reef” in the Samal tongue plays host to 600 kinds of fish that frolic with 360 types of coral. Other denizens include seabirds, sharks and cetaceans.
7 Its fertile reefs constantly seed adjoining regions
Tubbataha seed regions such as eastern Palawan, western Visayas and western Mindanao with fish and invertebrate spawn generating vast amounts of marine produce that feed millions of people each year.
6 It was declared as a World Heritage Site in 1993
The Tubbataha Reefs are among the richest in the Coral Triangle, the world’s center of marine biodiversity. In 1998, fishing, collection, and harvesting of any life form was banned throughout the park.
5 It produces up to 200 tons of fish biomass per 1sqm
Basically, this is where we get all our fish. A single square-kilometer of healthy coral reef normally can generate up to 30-tonnes annually.
4 Tubbataha North Islet is also called Bird Islet
The island is 12,435sqm large and hosts over 200 trees—the tallest shredded by a recent boom of Red-footed Boobies. At the center lies the Plaza—a 3,690sqm open area occupied by ground-breeding birds. The scrubby landscape rises no higher than two meters above the sea.
3 Parola or South Islet is much smaller
At 3,140 sqm, the island has a meter-high concrete wall, cracked and pitted by the elements, forming a protective ring against erosion, while a solar-powered lighthouse erected in 1980 by the Philippine Coast Guard stands sentinel over all. About 120 Argusia, Pisonia, and coconut trees dot the grassy landscape. East of the lighthouse lies the rusting hulk of the Del San, an old log carrier. Protected as a core zone, WWF and Cebu Pacific help TMO in keeping both of Tubbataha’s islands completely off-limits to outsiders.
2 Six seabird species breed in Tubbataha
Distinguished by where they nest, the ground nesters include the Brown Booby, Brown Noddy, Great Crested Tern and Sooty Tern, while the tree nesters include the Red-footed Booby and the endemic Black Noddy. Each bird species has a distinct personality.
1 Only 5% of the country’s coral reefs are in pristine condition
And Tubbataha is one of its last great reefs.