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 1970s, 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 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 kilometers (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 kilometers (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.


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 center 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:


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 the travel takes a lot of 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.


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


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


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

Strategic Planning Workshop on the Protection & Conservation of the Coral Reefs (Lecture # 9)

Source: Art Vanchaam of Thailand @ Vimeo

Earthniversity would like to present a new topic entitled:  Strategic Planning Workshop on the Protection & Conservation of the Coral Reefs.  This is a global issue and as wide as the extent that the coral reefs are present in any part of the world.  But, Earthniversity attempts to tackle this topic, although it might be boring to some.

Based on our motto “Everyone thinking globally and acting locally”, this global issue can be addressed locally by people in the community where a specific coral reef exists. So, by the local people doing their share of the global responsibility, their activities or observable behavior, to protect and conserve the coral reefs can make a difference in the world.  If everyone in the community will get involve and the local government manifests their  encouragement to the local people to help protect and conserve the coral reefs, then they can do something for their local community that will have a big impact too, in the global community.

This lecture is also a response from one of our readers.  The need of any LGU or Local Government Unit for a comprehensive plan on the protection and conservation of the coral reefs can be addressed if they have the tool or the document from which they can base their activities to attain this goal – protection and conservation of the coral reefs.

This activity is solely for the enrichment of the local government’s initiatives on the protection and conservation of the coral reefs.

This is also a support mechanism to implement, in the local level, the national laws governing the protection and conservation of the coral reefs.  In a way, this lecture is designed to plan a strategy in the effective implementation of national and local laws on the protection and conservation of the coral reefs.

In this activity, the Strategic Planning Workshop on the Protection and Conservationof the Coral Reefs, the various sectors of the community will be actively involved.  From their level, a plan shall be formulated to protect and conserve the coral reef.  The Workshop will, therefore, result in the community’s plan on how to protect and conserve their coral reef.

The Local Government Unit will be the implementing arm of this community’s plan.  This will also result to the community’s ownership of the Strategic Plan, thus, their involvement is strengthened to protect and conserve the coral reefs.  I suggest that the slogan of this workshop shall be:  “Our Coral Reefs, Our Future. Let Us Protect & Conserve It.”

Source: Art Vanchaam of  Thailand @ Vimeo


Before the Workshop, the following shall be prepared:

1.  Facts and figures about the coral reefs.  It might be possible that the coral reefs might be so wide that it might cover several towns, islands, or Local Government Units.  For example, the Tubbataha Reefs is within the territorial waters of the Province of Palawan. While the over-all protection and conservation is within the realm of the national government and the provincial government , the Local Government Units where the Tubbataha Reefs is a part of, must also be involved in its protection and conservation and the gathering of data and information that could help provide the bases for whatever programs and projects need to be implemented to protect and conserve the reefs.

The following are the sources of facts and figures, to wit:

1.1.  Department of Environment and Natural Resources

1.2.  Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources

1.3.  Department of Agriculture

1.4.  Office of the Coast Guard

1.5.  Socio-Economic Profile of the LGUs

1.6.  Environment Code of both the National Government and LGU

1.7.  Comprehensive Land Use Plan of the National Government, the Provincial Government, of the Region, and the LGUs

1.8.  Annual Reports of the National Economic and Development Authority, National Government; the Regional Annual Report and the LGUs Annual Report

1.9.  National Development Plan; Regional Development Plan; Provincial, City and Municipal Development Plan

1.10. Other available sources of data.

Pre-StratPlan Requirements

1.  The Training/Workshop Design

1.1. Objectives

1.2. Methodology

1.3. Topics & Resource Persons and Workshop Facilitators

1.4. Supplies, Materials & Equipment (LCD Projector, Computer, Laptop, Screen, Overhead Projector, Service Vehicle, Gasoline Allowance, Training Kits and Hand-outs, cartolina, manila paper for workshop, etc.

1.5. Venue, Accommodation of Participants, Food & Catering, etc.

1.6. Other items that I missed to list.

Training/Workshop Proper

1.  Registration

2.  Opening Ceremonies

3.  Introduction of Participants

4.  Leveling of Expectations

5.  Presentation of T/W Objectives vis-a-vis Participants’ Expectations

Source:  D. J. Clark video @ Vimeo, text and voice over by Jofelle Tesoro.  Interview with Angelique Songco, dive master and Director of Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, Palawan


Strategic Planning Workshop Session

Participants will be asked to answer or discuss the following questions:

1.  Who Are We?

2.  Where Are We Now?

3.  Where Are We Going?

4.  What Are The Obstacles And Strengths To Reach Our Goals?

Analysis of SWOT – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

5.  How Are We Going To Get There?

6.  Group Discussions

6.1.  Fine tuning of the answers to each question.  Prioritize the answers according to importance.

6.2.  Presentation & Critiquing

6.3.  Writing/Preparation of the Final Output

7.  Formulation of Action Plan

7.1.  Activities/Programs/Projects

7.2.  Targets

7.3.  Strategies

7.4.  Budget Requirements

7.5.   Persons/Personnel Responsible

7.6.   Time Frame

7.7.    Action Taken

Note:  You can revise this part of the Design to suit your specific need.

8.  Preparation of the Document on the Workshop output for presentation to the Local Government Unit’s Local Development Council for their comments. To be done by the Technical Working Group/TWG in collaboration with the Workshop Secretariat.

9.  Presentation of the Strategic Plan on the Protection & Conservation of the Coral Reefs to the community through Community Consultation.  The community will be asked to add their inputs to this StratPlan.

-10.  Preparation of the Document after the Community Consultation.  This will be presented to the Local Development Council for review and approval through a Resolution.

11.  Preparation of the Final Document on the Strategic Plan on the Protection & Conservation of the Coral Reefs and for approval of the Local Chief Executive – Governor or Mayor.

12.  The LCE  will submit this StratPlan to the Local Council for their review and approval through a Council Resolution.

13.  Implementation.  Once approval of the Council is done, the implementing agency, which has been identified during the workshop and during meetings with the Local Development Council and also mentioned in the StratPlan submitted to the Local Council, will now convene the Committee to formulate their implementation plan. Most probably, the Chair is the Environment Officer with members coming from selected Local Government’s Departments with direct or implied participation in the implementation of the Plan.  For example:

Chair       – Environment Officer


1. Representative of the Local Council representing the Environment Committee.

2. Representative of the LCE.

3.  Chair of the Local Development Council.

4.  The Legal Officer of the LGU.

5.  Local Representative of the DENR, Bureau of Fisheries, Department of Agriculture, and other National Agencies already identified during the Workshop.

6.  Other LGUs, Agencies, Persons or Groups to be identified during the Workshop or by the LGU.

7.   The Secretariat, preferably the Planning & Development Coordinator of the LGU.

Monitoring & Evaluation

The Committee created for this purpose will schedule a regular monitoring and evaluation team of the implementation of the StratPlan.  A monitoring and evaluation form should be designed using several indicators for easy interpretation of the data.

14.  Updating of the StratPlan.  A timeline shall be decided by the Committee setting the schedule of the Update of the StratPlan.  For example, yearly or every three (3) years.

15.  Sustainability Measures.  A discussion on the sustainability of the StratPlan shall be part of the final document so that the implementation will go on even if new set of local government officials will take over the reins of the local government.

Source:  Nick Utchin of Bangkok Thailand @ Vimeo


This is just a draft or a suggested format of the Strategic Planning Workshop on the Protection & Conservation of the Coral Reefs.  Most of the activities included in this StratPlan were based on my personal experience as a technical writer on the Comprehensive Land Use Plan, Environment Code and Solid Waste Management Plan of a city in the Philippines; as a  city planning and development officer of a Local Government Unit, and as planning and development facilitator of a foreign government aid agency’s project in the Philippines.

In this draft, I have included all that are supposed to be done but the way it should be done and implemented may vary from one LGU to another.  Meaning, you improve this to suit  your needs.  If this is helpful to your local experience, please send us a word.


Earthniversity would like to thank the various owners of videos used in this post. Specifically, we would like to thank the following:

1. Art Vanchaam videos #1 and #2 from Vimeo.

2. D. J. Clark Video from Vimeo.  Text & Voice Over by Jofelle Tesoro.  Interview with Angelique Songco, dive master and Director of Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, Palawan.

3.  Nick Utchin Video from Vimeo.

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The Coral Reef Speaks. Do you want to listen?

Let us begin the year 2015 with a beautiful message from the Coral.  Using the power of personification, Ian Somerhalder,  speaks as the Coral Reef.

Somerhalder is a popular American Actor and Model.  According to Wikipedia, among his notable works included the Lost and the Vampire Diaries.  He was also a multi-awarded actor and was actively involved in the cleanup drive of the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling disaster in 2010.  He also supported the St. Tammany Humane Society, an animal shelter and welfare project. (Source:  Wikipedia).

Earthniversity would like to share this message to you.  The video which is available on youtube is produced by Conservation International and uploaded by ConservationDotOrg.

And now here’s an example of  one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, the Tubbataha Reefs.  It is a 97 hectare reefs located in the middle of Sulu Sea in the Philippines.  It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1993.  It is also a protected area under the laws of the Republic of the Philippines.

Source: http://www.bdnewslive.com

According Wikipedia, “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, 11shark species, 13 dolphin and whale species, and 100 bird species. The reefs also serve as a nesting ground forHawksbill and Green sea turtles.”

Source: http://www.boomsbeat.com

After watching this video, please spread the word – stop killing the coral reefs.  Thank you.