Benham Rise: Philippines Newest Underwater Territory

(Source: TV 9, News & Current Affairs, youtube)

Facts and Figures about Benham Plateau.

According to the Wikipedia,

The Benham Plateau, also known as the Benham Rise, is a seismically active undersea region and extinct volcanic ridge located in the Philippine Sea approximately 250 km (160 mi) east of the northern coastline of Dinapigue, Isabela.

Under the Philippine Sea lie a number of basins including the West Philippine Sea Basin, inside of which is located the Central Basin Fault (CBF).[1] The Benham Plateau is located in the CBF and its basement probably is a micro-continent.[2] Several scientific surveys have been made on the feature to study its nature and its impact on tectonic subduction, including one about its effects on the 1990 Luzon earthquake. The area is a territory of the Philippines which was claimed, as part of its continental shelf, which was then lodged with the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf on April 8, 2009 and was approved by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 2012.[3]  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benham_Plateau)

Geological features[edit]

The map shows the features of the Philippine Sea Plate.

Benham Rise is a submerged extinct volcanic ridge located at 16 degrees 30 minutes N, 124 degrees 45 minutes E off the coast of Luzon, with the size of about 250 km in diameter and rises over 2,000 meters (2 km.) above the sea floor, from below 5,000 meters (5 km.) below sea level to above 3,000 meters (3 km.) below sea level. Its area is close to the Benham Seamount, located at 15 degrees 48 minutes N, 124 degrees 15 minutes E. The precise location is somewhere near the east of the Philippine Trench and near the south of the East Luzon Trench, both of which absorb the subducting force of thePhilippine Sea Plate under the Philippine Mobile Belt,[4] a collage of large blocks of that crust that amalgamated prior to the collision of the Philippine Sea Plate with the Eurasian Plate.[5]

The origin of the landform, along with a fellow landform, the Urdaneta Plateau (a remnant of mantle plume), is identified in one study as at least five sequences of propagating rifts, probably triggered by mantleflowing away from the mantle thermal anomaly.[6] Its presence of the landform disrupts the continuity of this region (known as the Philippine-East Luzon Trench) by continuously colliding with the Sierra Madre mountain range of eastern portion of the island of Luzon. Though it is generally thought that the Philippine Sea Plate is being subducted under the Philippine Mobile Belt, under the rules of tectonic subduction, there appears to be a resistance to this because of the presence of the landform, and instead, the plate is being displaced into the northern portion of Luzon to the west.[7][8]  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benham_Plateau)

The geophysical features of the plateau may have been the result of an early Miocene collision event between the Benham Rise and the eastern margin of Luzon, which may have also allowed the inception of the NW striking strand of the Philippine fault.[9] These forces may have impacted the shape of the island of Luzon because of the basaltic sea floor resisting the subduction that may have also cause the bending of thePhilippine Fault.[10] The active basins in Central Luzon, which trace an asymmetrical V shape, is the best place to observe recent tectonic evolution of the fault system.(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benham_Plateau)

History[edit]

The landform is presumably named after Admiral Andrew Ellicot Kennedy Benham (1832–1905) by American surveyors who were the probable discoverers of the geological feature. He was a United States Navyofficer, who served with both the South Atlantic and West Gulf Blockading Squadrons during the American Civil War.[11] There has been speculation in the scientific community about the nature of the landform. Following the major 16 July 1990 Luzon earthquake, scientists reconsidered their fault models and decided it likely that Benham Plateau has similarly displaced the Philippine Fault System to the west.[12] After analysing older models such as that of Pinet and Stephan (1989), scientists reconsidered their fault models. They thought that it is highly likely that the Benham Plateau is still displacing Central Luzon and the Philippine Fault System to the west, which may have had an impact in causing such a catastrophic earthquake. The 20 second to 50 second wave in the 1990 quake that developed a new east-west sub-fault was so strong that it terminated disastrously at the city of Baguio in Benguet, Cordillera. Several scientific surveys, conducted between 2004 and 2008, collected hydrographic data that determined the morphology of the seabed in the region. Additional data from international bathymetric surveys and an analysis of international research projects were collected to support the findings.[13]    (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benham_Plateau)

Benham Rise has been part of the culture of ancient Filipinos. Ancient Catanduanes people have fished and roamed the area long before the colonial era. In fact, it is celebrated in Catandunganons’ folktales, legends and poetry. Today, large percentage of fish caught by Catandunganon comes from Benham Rise. Its local bicol term is called Kalipung-awan (means loneliness in an isolated place).  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benham_Plateau)

Philippine claim[edit]

Territorial waters of the Philippines. The Benham rise is located directly east of Luzon.

Despite its proximity to the archipelago, the plateau was previously not included in the territory of the Philippines. On 8 April 2009, the Republic of the Philippines lodged a partial territorial waters claim with the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf in relation to the continental shelf in the region of Benham Rise.[14] It was submitted as part of petition expanding the archipelago’s baselines and exclusive economic zone through a law that also included other claims involving disputed territories of the Kalayaan Islands (Spratly Islands) and Scarborough Shoal. Although the landform, in itself, is not disputed, the petition still received some criticism inside and outside the country because of its controversial nature.[15] According to the government’s claim, based on a set of guidelines by the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, the area satisfies the 350-mile constraint line since the outer limits of the continental shelf are located landward of the constraint line, which is located 350 miles from the baselines where the measurement of the breadth of the territorial sea begins.[13] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benham_Plateau)

The Congress of the Philippines enacted Republic Act No. 9522, also known as the Archipelagic Baselines Law, which is the basis of the claim. According to the document the region is bounded by the Philippine Basin on the north and east, and by Luzon on the west and south. It asserted that, according to scientific data based on seismic, magnetic, other geological features, the Benham Rise is an extension of the Philippines’ continental shelf. In summary, the baselines, the basis used for delineating the maritime territorial and jurisdictional zones (including the continental shelf), conform with the requirements of the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).[13] The claim is only a partial claim since the law that allows the Philippines to expand its territorial boundaries also includes islands in theSouth China Sea.  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benham_Plateau)

UN Decision[edit]

The Philippines filed its claim for Benham Rise in 2008 in compliance with the requirements of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The UN has officially approved the claim in April 2012.[3][16][17][18]

(Source: Rappler hosted by Maria Ressa, youtube)

Comments:

According to the report mentioned by Pia Hontiveros, Benham Rise is a 13 million hectare sea bed off the coast of Aurora Province, Luzon, Philippines, that may potentially contain steel producing minerals and natural gas.

DISCLAIMER:

The Earthniversity does not own the articles, facts and figures stated in this post as well as the videos posted herein. The facts and figures about the Benham Plateau or Benham Rise had been taken from the Wikipedia.  The link is herein stated for your reference.  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benham_Plateau)

Acknowledgment:

Thank you to Rappler’s Ms. Maria Ressa for the video they posted on youtube.

Thank you to TV 9 News and Current Affairs and Pia Hontiveros for the video they uploaded on youtube.

Thank you to The Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.

  • – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
  • For discussion purposes only.

Fish Kill At The Kalayaan Island Group

The Philippines had been one of the claimants of a string of islands, atolls, and shoals among others which are located in the disputed areas of South China Sea.

Recently, China was reported to have released chemicals into the surrounding waters of the occupied  Pag-asa Island, a part of the Province of Palawan, Philippines, which resulted  to the  mass-killing of fish, corals and other aquatic plants and animals thereat.

This fish kill  threatens the livelihood of the residents in the Island.  But the Chinese were determined to continue with their action because they wanted the residents to leave the island.

Wikipedia has the following information about the Municipality of Kalayaan, to wit:

  1.  Founded on June 11, 1978 by virtue of Presidential Decree 1596.
  2. Republic Act 9522 of 2009, defines the archipelagic baselines of the Philippines, claimed sovereignty over Kalayaan Island Group, a concept defined in the UNCLOS – United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea.
  3. Kalayaan Island Group includes the following:  a) Pag-asa Island is the inhabited island; b) Likas Island; c) Parola Island (Cay); d) Lawak Island; e) Kota Island; f) Patag Island (Cay); g) Panata Island (Cay); g) Balagtas Reef; h) Ayungin Reef; i) Rizal Reef.
  4. The town has a total land area of 110 square miles or 290 square kilometers.
  5. The population as of 2010 is 222.
  6. The town has a dilapidated airstrip, a Lying-In Clinic and an elementary school.
  7. It has a set of elected town officials headed by the Mayor Eugenio B. Bito-onon, Jr.
  8. The town is part of Philippines’ Region IV-B composed of the provinces of Mindoro, Masbate, Romblon and Palawan where the town belongs.  (MIMAROPA Region).

Smart Telecommunications constructed a cell site on the island which became operational on June 12, 2005.

Pag-asa Island is just one of the eight (8) islands in the Municipality of Kalayaan Island Group.  It is located in the West Philippine Sea.

Definition of Terms:

  1.  Cay is a small, low island composed largely of coral or sand. (The Free Dictionary)
  2. Reef is a strip or ridge of rocks, sand or coral that rises to or near the surface to or near the body of water.  (The Free Dictionary)

For a detailed report, please click this link hereunder:

http://www.thedailytrends.net/2016/05/china-releasing-chemicals-to-kill-fish.html

World Wildlife Day, March 3.

 

Source: https://images.search.yahoo.com

Every March 3rd is designated by the United Nations as the World Wildlife Day.  Today, there are so many challenges that face every nation and country as to how they should cope with the rising problems on the protection and conservation of the world’s wildlife, specifically those that are on the brink of extinction.

Let this day, therefore, be the rallying point to focus on the several activities, programs, and projects, strategies, and approaches to Protect and Conserve the World’s Wildlife.

 

 

 

 

International Wetlands Day

Source: http://www.ramsar.org

Every 2nd of February, the world celebrates the International Wetlands Day to re-emphasize the importance of Wetlands in Sustainable Development.  This observance was the result of:

“The Ramsar Convention (formally, the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, especially as Waterfowl Habitat).  It is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands,[1] recognizing the fundamental ecological functions of wetlands and their economic, cultural, scientific, and recreational value. It is named after the city of Ramsar inIran, where the Convention was signed in 1971.” (Source: Wikipedia)

According to the Wikipedia, the convention was developed and adopted by participating nations at a meeting in Ramsar, Mazandaran, Iran, on February 2, 1971, hosted by the Iranian Department of Environment, and came into force on December 21, 1975.

The Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance now includes 2208 Sites (known as Ramsar Sites) covering over 210,734,269.41 ha (520,735,720.3 acres). The country with the highest number of Sites is the United Kingdom at 170 and the country with the greatest area of listed wetlands is Bolivia, with over 140,000 km2 (54,000 sq mi).[2] The Ramsar definition of wetlands is fairly wide, including “areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six meters” as well as fish ponds, rice paddies and salt pans.[3]

Presently there are 169 contracting parties, up from 21 initial signatory nations in 1971. The state parties meet every three years as the Conference of the Contracting Parties (COP), the first held in Cagliari, Italy in 1980. Amendments to the original convention have been agreed to in Paris (in 1982) and Regina (in 1987).[4]

There is a standing committee, a scientific review panel, and a secretariat. The headquarters is located in Gland, Switzerland, shared with the IUCN.

Ramsar works closely with five (5) international organizations:

  1.  Birdlife International
  2. IUCN – International Union For Conservation of Nature
  3. IWMI – International Water Management Institute
  4. Wetlands International
  5. WWF International – World Wide Fund

The 2016 International Wetlands Day adopted the theme: Wetlands For Our Future Sustainable Livelihoods.

Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramsar_Classification.  The poster tells a story.  From the mountains to the sea, the wetlands work for humanity – their beauty, diversity, utility.  As providers of livelihood opportunities for people in the area and as habitat for plants and animals of diverse types and classes, the Wetlands need protection to make it sustainable, not only for the present but also for the future generations.

So, to better appreciate this day, let us begin by discussing what wetlands is all about.

What are wetlands?

According to Ramsar, wetlands are “areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six meters.” (https:/en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramsar_Convention)

Wetlands also include fish ponds, rice paddies, salt pans, marsh, bog, swamps, morass, quagmire, muskeg, slough, fen, fenland, bayou, and bogland, among others.

Rice paddy at Banaue, Ifugao, Philippines. (Source: The National Geographic)

Source:http://static.panoramio.com/photos/large/3067447.jpg (Image of rice paddies)

 

Description.  

Wetlands are areas where water covers the soil or is present either at or near the surface of the soil all year or for varying periods of time during the year, including during the growing season. Water saturation (hydrology) largely determines how the soil develops and the types of plant and animal communities living in and on the soil. Wetlands may support both aquatic and terrestrial species. The prolonged presence of water creates conditions that favor the growth of specially adapted plants (hydrophytes) and promote the development of characteristic wetland (hydric) soils.

Wetlands vary widely because of regional and local differences in soils, topography, climate, hydrology, water chemistry, vegetation and other factors, including human disturbance. Indeed, wetlands are found from the tundra to the tropics and on every continent except Antarctica. Two general categories of wetlands are recognized: coastal or tidal wetlands and inland or non-tidal wetlands. (Source: http://www.epa.gov)

What are the Components of Wetlands?

The US Environmental and Protection Agency stated the following as components of wetlands.

Components:

  1. Tidal wetlands in the United States, as their name suggests, are found along the Atlantic, Pacific, Alaskan and Gulf coasts. They are closely linked to our nation’s estuaries where sea water mixes with fresh water to form an environment of varying salinities. The salt water and the fluctuating water levels (due to tidal action) combine to create a rather difficult environment for most plants. Consequently, many shallow coastal areas are unvegetated mud flats or sand flats. Some plants, however, have successfully adapted to this environment. Certain grasses and grasslike plants that adapt to the saline conditions form the tidal salt marshes that are found along the Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific coasts. Mangrove swamps, with salt-loving shrubs or trees, are common in tropical climates, such as in southern Florida and Puerto Rico. Some tidal freshwater wetlands form beyond the upper edges of tidal salt marshes where the influence of salt water ends.
  2. Non-Tidal wetlands are most common on floodplains along rivers and streams       (riparian wetlands), in isolated depressions surrounded by dry land (for example, playas, basins and “potholes”), along the margins of lakes and ponds, and in other low-lying areas where the groundwater intercepts the soil surface or where precipitation sufficiently saturates the soil (vernal pools and bogs). Inland wetlands include marshes and wet meadows dominated by herbaceous plants, swamps dominated by shrubs, and wooded swamps dominated by trees. (www.epa.gov)

Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park in Palawan is considered by Ramsar as one of the important Wetlands sites in the Philippines.  (Source: http://www.pre-tend.com/beautiful-places-to-visit-in-philippines/)

The island of Olango which is part of the province of Cebu is also an important wetland site in the Philippines according to Ramsar.  (Source: http://www.beyondcebu.com)

Source: http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/0f/d9/47/0fd9478a38b2845b5b00bb1f0711ecfa.jpg.  This is Candaba wetlands, Pampanga, Philippines. Uploaded by pinterest.com

Certain types of inland wetlands are common to particular regions of the country. A full list can be found here.

Many of these wetlands are seasonal (they are dry one or more seasons every year), and, particularly in the arid and semiarid West, may be wet only periodically. The quantity of water present and the timing of its presence in part determine the functions of a wetland and its role in the environment. Even wetlands that appear dry at times for significant parts of the year — such as vernal pools– often provide critical habitat for wildlife adapted to breeding exclusively in these areas.  (Source: http://www.epa.gov)

Agusan del Sur Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary.  Ramsar identified Agusan del Sur Wetlands as one of the important Ramsar Sites in the Philippines.  (Source: https://search.yahoo.com/search?fr=mcafee&type=C211US0D19700101&p=images+of+Agusan+del+sur+Wetlands)

Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary is considered as one of the important Wetland Sites in the Philippines by Ramsar. (Source: s.yimg.com JOJI ALCANTARA Photo.)

Functions & Values of Marshes, Swamps, Bog, Fens, others.

Marshes recharge groundwater supplies and moderate streamflow by providing water to streams. This is an especially important function during periods of drought. The presence of marshes in a watershed helps to reduce damage caused by floods by slowing and storing flood water. As water moves slowly through a marsh, sediment and other pollutants settle to the substrate or floor of the marsh. Marsh vegetation and microorganisms also use excess nutrients for growth that can otherwise pollute surface water such as nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilizer. (Source: http://www.epa.gov)

Olango Island Wildlfe Sanctuary in Cebu is also in the list of Ramsar as an important Wetlands in the Philippines.  Thank you NILO ARRIBAS, JR. Photo. (Source: ttps://search.yahoo.com/search?fr=mcafee&type=C211US1134D20151124&p=Olango+island%2C+cebu)

Functions & Values of Non-Tidal Marshes and other non-tidal wetlands.

Due to their high levels of nutrients, freshwater marshes are one of the most productive ecosystems on earth. They can sustain a vast array of plant communities that in turn support a wide variety of wildlife within this vital wetland ecosystem. As a result, marshes sustain a diversity of life that is disproportionate to their size. In addition to their considerable habitat value, non-tidal marshes serve to mitigate flood damage and filter excess nutrients from surface runoff. (Source: http://www.epa.gov)

This is one of the images of wetlands in the Philippines. (Source: walkingnewspaper.com and http://awsassets.panda.org/img/original/auenlandschaft_im_naturreservat_gornje_podunavje_c_jaroslav_pap.jpg.)

What is the importance of wetlands?

According to EPA the US Environmental Protection Agency through its website –  http://www.epa.gov/wetlands/why-are-wetlands-important:

“Wetlands are important features in the landscape that provide numerous beneficial services for people and for fish and wildlife. Some of these services, or functions, include protecting and improving water quality, providing fish and wildlife habitats, storing floodwaters and maintaining surface water flow during dry periods. These valuable functions are the result of the unique natural characteristics of wetlands.

Hereunder is the link to U.S. EPA on the discussion that focuses on restoration and conservation.

http://www.epa.gov/wetlands/wetlands-restoration-definitions-and-distinctions

Another link stated below refers to the Wetlands Monitoring and Assessment.

http://www.epa.gov/wetlands/wetlands-monitoring-and-assessment

This is the Ilog River Estuary where wetlands can also be found.  It is located in the southern part of Negros Occidental, Philippines. It is the sanctuary of different species of migratory and native birds, wildlife and home to plants.  It also provides livelihood opportunities to the local fisherfolks and farmers.   (Source: scienceray.com or http://s3.amazonaws.com/readers/2012/04/11/2_2.jpg)

Observation/Remark.  To ensure success in the protection and conservation of wetlands, there is a need for community involvement.  Hereunder, a link is provided for you to get some ideas on how a community gets involved in the protection and conservation of their wetlands.  This refers to Volunteer Monitoring.  It also discusses the importance of community volunteers to monitor the different species of fishes and other animals that make the wetlands their habitat and how they can also be protected.

http://www.epa.gov/wetlands/volunteer-monitoring

Comments:

  1.  Wherever you are situated, your country’s wetlands are an important part of your environment.  In it, lies the different species of fishes, wildlife, endangered species of plants and other animals that contribute to a balanced eco-systems.  As previously mentioned, the wetlands have enumerable benefits not only to the soil and living organisms that make it their habitat but more importantly to people who benefits from many resources that the wetlands produce.
  2. As an income generator or livelihood provider,  the Wetlands must be protected and conserved so that eco-tourism, fishery, food production, natural beauty of the locality and sustainable development, as a whole, can be achieved.
  3. For the local community, specifically in Asia and the Philippines, the following programs and projects can be considered to protect and conserve the Wetlands.  a) Survey the existing wetlands in your community;  b) Identify its inhabitants such as fishes, turtles, birds and other animals, kinds of grasses and other forms of life that depend its existence upon this wetland; c) Identify the different uses of the wetland such as fishing, food production, eco-tourism and many others; d) conduct a strategic planning workshop to identify the existing situation of the wetland, its prospects for the future, the ways and means to achieve and reach this future, and strategies and approaches to its sustainable development; e) Identify and motivate the support of the local community by organizing a group of Local Volunteers for the protection and conservation of the wetland; f) Design a Sustainable Development Plan for the Wetland in cooperation with local community, the local officials, the government, and civil society; g) the local Environment Office should take the lead in organizing a Technical Working Group or a Committee that should implement, monitor, evaluate and sustain all activities.
  4. You can adopt this motto to make your work effective – “Act locally and think globally” to protect and conserve a more sustainable wetland. If everybody does it locally, imagine what will the effects be to the world because of this local and then global activities.  It is immensely great. Right?

The Philippines is the home of five (5) important Wetlands Sites identified by the Ramsar. These are:

  1.  Wildlife Sanctuary, Agusan del Sur
  2. Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary, Cebu
  3. Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, Palawan
  4. Puerto Princesa Subterranean River Natural Park, Palawan
  5. Las Pinas-Paranaque Critical Habitat and Ecosystem Area.

Other sources mentioned Naujan Lake National Park at Oriental Mindoro.  Here is the photo from chendelmundoMD’s site.

 This is Naujan Lake National Park at Oriental Mindoro. (Source: flyinstyledaily.blogspot.com)

The Philippine government, the Local Government Units such as the Provinces, Cities and Municipalities are actively involved in the forefront as leaders in the conservation and protection of these wetlands.

In closing, Earthniversity would like to emphasize that there are other activities that the community can think of, implement and monitor in order to achieve the local goals of protecting and conserving the Wetlands.
Earthniversity would like to acknowledge its various sources of information in coming up with this discussion. All sources of materials such as texts and photographs used here have been individually cited. Thank you to you all.
Earthniversity does not own these ideas but cites the different sources of information to come up with a more organized presentation regarding the Wetlands and how the people in the community can help to protect and conserve these Wetlands.
We hope this will be helpful to you. Have a nice day.

 

 

 

To What Extent Does A Reclamation Project Hurts Biodiversity?

The non-stop reclamation project of China in the disputed group of islands and islets at the West Philippine Sea or the Spratly group of islands has been causing great irreparable damage to the Biodiversity in that region.  The damage had been observed in the shoals and atolls that included the Johnson Reef, McKennan Reef, Mischief Reef, Cuarteron Reef, Gaven Reef and Fiery Cross Reef.   Through the UN intervention,  this act of defiance by China should, immediately, stop.

This is the substance of the recently concluded meeting of countries at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

The report stated that “Ambassador Lourdes O. Yparraguirre, Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations, issued her warning before a hundred UN legal experts in a June 10 forum organized by the Philippines that focused on the protection and preservation of the marine environment. With the theme, “UNCLOS and the Protection of the Marine Environment,” the event was held at the sidelines of the week-long 25th Meeting of States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (SPLOS) at the UN Headquarters.”

(Source: Jane Perlez, the New York Times)

For a detailed discussion on this issue, please click the link hereunder.

http://www.interaksyon.com/article/112377/south-china-sea-in-environmental-crisis-due-to-beijings-reclamation-un-forum-told

For related story by Jane Perlez, New York Times, please refer to this link:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/17/world/asia/china-building-airstrip-in-disputed-spratly-islands-satellite-images-show.html?_r=0

Tubbataha Reef: A Long Reef Exposed At Low Tide

Tubbataha Reef is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Since the discovery of the  Tubbataha in the late 1970’s, it has been recognized as one of the most remarkable coral reefs on our planet. The CNN travel website, cnngo.com, ranks it as among the top eight dive sites in the world.

According to the Wikipedia:

The Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (Filipino: Bahurang Tubbataha) is a protected area of the Philippines located in the middle ofSulu Sea. The marine and bird sanctuary consists of two huge atolls (named the North Atoll and South Atoll) and the smaller Jessie Beazley Reef covering a total area of 97,030 hectares (239,800 acres; 374.6 sq mi). It is located 150 kilometres (93 mi) southeast of Puerto Princesa City, the capital of Palawan province.[2] The uninhabited islands and reefs are part of the island municipality of Cagayancillo, Palawan, located roughly 130 kilometres (81 mi) to the northeast of the reef.[2]

In December 1993, the UNESCO declared the Tubbataha Reefs National Park as a World Heritage Site as a unique example of an atoll reef with a very high density of marine species; the North Islet serving as a nesting site for birds and marine turtles. The site is an excellent example of a pristine coral reef with a spectacular 100-m perpendicular wall, extensive lagoons and two coral islands.[3] In 1999, Ramsar listed Tubbataha as one of the Wetlands of International Importance.[4] In 2008, the reef was nominated at the New 7 Wonders of Nature.[5]

The national park and the rest of the Philippine archipelago is part of the Coral Triangle, recognized as a center of marine biodiversity containing 75% of the described coral species and 40% of the world’s reef fish.[6] The area is under a grave threat due to overfishing and destructive fishing practices.[7] Research of scientists visiting the reefs since the 1980s revealed that the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park contains no less than 600 fish species, 360 coral species, 11 shark species, 13 dolphin and whalespecies, and 100 bird species. The reefs also serve as a nesting ground for Hawksbill and Green sea turtles.

Because of its isolated location, Tubbataha can only be visited on a liveaboard boat. Divers can experience the reefs’ dramatic underwater terrain, awe-inspiring biodiversity and encounter large marine animals such as sharks, turtles and manta rays.

Tubbataha is a combination of two Samal words which are “tubba” and “taha” which means, “a long reef exposed at low tide”.

Source: Youtube by DazzlingPhilippines.

As a visiting diver, you will play an important role in Tubbataha’s future, as your conservation fees provide the funds needed to protect the park from illegal exploitation.

(Photo: U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Anderson Bomjardim) March 20, 2013.

According to a report from Andrea Germanos, Staff Writer of Common Dreams, the United States has agreed to pay the $1.9 million in compensation for the damage to the reefs caused by U.S. Navy minesweeper.  And then, as early as the first quarter of 2015, local news in the Philippines carried a banner story about the Philippines receiving the amount for the rehabilitation of Tubbataha Reefs. 

According to Germanos, the USS Guardian rammed into the reefs and got stranded there for the next two months and had to be cut into pieces to be extricated.  This happened in January, 2013.

A UNESCO  World Heritage site, the park website describes it as being at the heart of the global center of marine biodiversity.

(ANDREA GERMANOS, STAFF WRITER OF  Common Dreams.)

Hereunder is a video about Going to Tubbataha Reefs, uploaded on youtube by Chris Hewett.

 

According to the website of Tubbataha Reefs, there  is one Manta Rays that is a resident of Tubbataha reefs.  Here’s the article:

Reef Manta Rays

Philippines’ first record of Manta alfredi

In 2012, using data collected by research volunteer consultant Dr Terry Aquino, marine scientist Dr Will White confirmed that the Manta Rays in Tubbataha are Manta alfredi, a reef based species, rather than Manta birostris, a pelagic species roaming the open seas.

This is exciting since there was previously no record of Manta alfredi in the Philippines.

The Reef Manta Ray (Manta alfredi) is found in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans. However, actual populations seem to be sparsely distributed.

Manta alfredi is considered “vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List Status and an average of 30% decline in its population is suspected. They have a low reproductive rate with females bearing a single pup only once in two to three years.

Mantas are majestic creatures, loved by scuba divers. They are highly sensitive to marine conditions and are therefore an important indicator of the health of the ocean ecosystems.

Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is located in the middle of the Sulu Sea, in the township of Cagayancillo, a part of the Province of Palawan.

The website further stated that, “the park contains roughly 10,000 hectares of coral reef, lying at the heart of the Coral Triangle – the global centre of marine biodiversity.  Scientists have been visiting these reefs since the 1980s, and their research has shown that Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is home to no less than 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 & whales, 100 species of birds, and also nesting Hawksbill & Green sea turtles.”

For additional information, please check this link:

http://holidaytopalawan.com/tubbataha-reef/

How To Get There?

How to get here? You must go to Manila to book a flight to Puerto Princesa in Palawan. Once you’ve arrived there, dive operators will gladly guide you to the pier where the boat going to the reef is waiting. It’s a 10-hour ride to the park and usually, the boat drivers will suggest that you’ll leave at around after dinner so that you arrive there by early morning the next day. It may seem that it will eat a big time before you reach the reefs but I tell you, it’s worth it.

If you’re a diver and you haven’t been to the mystical Tubbataha Reefs then you’re missing out a big part of your diving life. It’s the best place to be.

Read more http://philippineblog.com/tag/how-to-go-to-tubbataha-reef/

Comment:

Since the Manta Alfredi is sensitive to marine conditions, it is, therefore, good to know, that for as long as these Manta Rays are present in Tubbataha, we can conclude that the reefs’ ecosystems are healthy.

The Management of Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park had been actively engaged in various activities that allowed scuba divers and tourists to explore the reefs but on top of their agenda was the protection and conservation of Tubbataha.

For more topics about the Tubbataha Reefs, please visit this link: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/653

http://www.islandream.com/philippines/tubbataha_map.htm

Map showing the Tubbataha Reefs.  Located in the middle of Sulu Sea between Palawan and Panay.

Acknowledgement:

Earthniversity is thanking its various sources of information and videos used in this post.  Thank you very much.