Bahurang Tubbataha, commonly known as the Tubbataha Natural Park or Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, is a Philippine protected area situated in the Sulu Sea. The North Atoll and South Atoll, two enormous atolls, plus the smaller Jessie Beazley Reef, which together constitute 97,030 hectares, make up the marine and bird sanctuary (239,800 acres; 374.6 sq mi). It is situated 150 kilometers (93 miles) southeast of Palawan’s capital, Puerto Princesa. About 130 kilometers (81 miles) to the northeast of the reef, the uninhabited islands and reefs are a part of the island municipality of Cagayancillo.

The North Islet is used as a breeding spot for birds and marine turtles, and the Tubbataha Reefs National Park was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in December 1993 as a special instance of an atoll reef with a very high density of marine species. The location is a prime example of a virgin coral reef, complete with two coral islands, a stunning 100-m perpendicular wall, and expansive lagoons. Tubbataha was included on the Ramsar list of wetlands of international significance in 1999. The reef was a candidate for the New 7 Wonders of Nature in 2008.

The Coral Triangle, which is known as a center of marine biodiversity and contains 75% of the identified coral species and 40% of the world’s reef fish, includes the national park and the remainder of the Philippine archipelago. Overfishing and damaging fishing methods pose a serious threat to the area. The Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is home to at least 600 fish species, 360 coral species, 11 shark species, 13 dolphin and whale species, and 100 bird species, according to research conducted by experts who have been visiting the reefs since the 1980s. Sea turtles, including Hawksbill and Green turtles, use the reefs as a place to lay their eggs.

  • Geography

The 97,030-hectare natural park is situated 150 kilometers (93 mi) southeast of Puerto Princesa, close to the center of the Sulu Sea (239,800 acres; 374.6 sq mi)

  • Geology

The Cagayan Ridge, which is made up of extinct underwater volcanoes, is where the Tubbataha Reef is located. The atolls of Tubbataha are thought to have originated as volcanic islands and bordering reefs thousands of years ago before becoming a true atoll structure. Based on Charles Darwin’s idea, atolls are created when a volcano erupts, which leads to the birth of an island. Only the corals, which are growing toward the sun, are left after the volcanoes were extinct and the islands slowly sank. The bordering reefs were the precursors to the enormous corals that encircle the lagoons today.

  • History


The Sama-Bajau terms tubba and taha, which both indicate “a long reef exposed at low tide,” are combined to form the word tubbataha. The nomadic Sama-Bajau people have historically made periodic trips to the reef. Despite the fact that Cagayancillo islanders frequently visit the reef. To sail and fish on the Tubbataha, which they called “Gusong,” they used the native boat banka.

  • Protection

The seclusion of Tubbataha, which is in the middle of the Sulu Sea and distant from the nearest populated islands, has helped to protect its marine resources throughout time from overuse. Because there is no freshwater source on the two islets in Tubbataha, they cannot be inhabited.

With the introduction of motorized bangkas as an alternative to the traditional sailboats in the 1980s, the number of fishermen reaching Tubbataha grew. Fish populations had decreased in other fishing sites due to overfishing, and because of the abundance of marine life there, Tubbataha rapidly became a fishing destination. To increase their catch, several fishermen adopted hazardous fishing methods including cyanide and dynamite fishing.


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