Tubbataha Reef is an atoll coral reef located 98 nautical miles southeast of Puerto Princesa. It derived its name from two Samali words which means “a long reef exposed at low tide.” Declared a World Heritage Site in 1993, the site is under protective management by the Department of National Defense and supervised by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Here we will look at the reasons for visiting the Tubbataha Reef.
1. The two atolls
Tubbataha Reef is composed of two coral atolls separated by an eight-kilometer wide channel. The smaller South Atoll is five kilometres long and three kilometres wide. The North Atoll, on the other hand, is 16 kilometers long and five kilometres wide.
2. The corals
The corals make up two-thirds of the reef and its waters serve as a refuge for various forms of marine life. Its diverse ecosystem is comparable to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef with 300 species of corals and 400 species of fishes.
3. The diverse marine life
Aside from its corals, the Tubbataha Reef also serves as a marine sanctuary. Among the animals that make the reef its home include manta rays, lionfish, pawikan, the endangered hawksbill turtle, hammerhead sharks, barracudas, and others.
4. The bird sanctuary
Tubbataha is also renowned for being the home of several species of birds. A lighthouse islet located at the southern tip of the South Atoll offers an amazing view of several species of seabirds which makes the area as their nesting ground. The Tubbataha is home to masked red-foot boobies, terns, and frigate birds. The Philippine Coast Guard maintains a small monitoring station on one of the various permanent sand bars.
5. Drift Diving and Night Dives
The strong current of the Tubbataha is the perfect place to go drift diving as well as night dives when there is no current. While the Tubbataha is reachable only by live-aboard vessels, there are excellent spots for wall diving where you can see sharks, mantas, and other underwater species.
These are just five reasons Tubbataha Reef is one of the most frequented attractions in Palawan and the Philippines.