Wonders under the Sea: Facts about Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park



Do you remember The Little Mermaid, a Disney movie based on a Danish fairytale? Sebastian the red Jamaican-accented crab sings about the beauty under the sea. If we could compare this to real life then it’s the Tubbataha Reef. Sebastian proudly sings, “Just look at the world around you. Right here on the ocean floor, such wonderful things around you. What more are you looking for?” 

The lyrics to this old childhood song speak volumes about Tubbataha as it’s a thriving coral reef with almost no human interference. In fact, humans have protected this reef from the other humans who destroy everything they touch. Living in an industrialized world, it truly is a miracle that such a place exists. The facts about Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park will leave you stunned and the next thing you know, you’re booking cheap flights to Philippines

The History of Tubbataha Reef  

This remarkable coral reef was found by humans in the 1970s and then it seemed like the future of this underwater world was bleak. However, it is now a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site under the Philippine’s government. This underwater terrain took over 15 million years to form and is one of the biggest marine ecosystems in the world. 

In the 1980s, Filipino fishermen used motorized bangkas to sail to the Sulu Sea and fish. They began using destructive methods like the use of cyanide and dynamite fishing that began to destroy this magnificent reef. Environmentalists and scuba divers were left devastated when they noticed the damage. 

This led to a massive campaign demanding protection of this reef. Their efforts paid off in 1988 when the Provincial Government of Palawan endorsed the project to declare Tubbataha a national marine park. 

Wonders under the Sea: Facts about Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park

Facts about Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park’s Name 

The term Tubbataha comes from the ancient language Sama-Bajau and means ‘long reef exposed at low tide.’ Before this coral reef gained popularity it was visited by Cagayanons, natives of the Cagayancillo Islands. They would sail to these glistening azure waters in their pangko to fish. Back then they called this area Gusong which was their primary fishing grounds.  

The Coral Triangle:  An International Treasure

The facts about Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park are endless as this crown jewel covers 97,000 hectares of the ocean floor. This Natural Park houses the North and South Atolls as well as the Jessie Beazley Reef that are part of the vast Coral Triangle. The Jessie Beazley Reef is a smaller coral structure that lies 12.4 miles from the atolls.  

The North Atoll has unfathomable beauty as it is home to the Bird Islet which is the only private bird sanctuary in the Philippines. Tourists are prohibited from stepping foot here but if you go diving you’ll hear the loud chirps and flocks of birds flying overhead. 

This tiny islet is filled with rare water bird species like Plover, Sooty Tern, Crested Terns, White Egret and Red-footed Booby. The South Atoll houses a lighthouse to guide boats through these harsh seas. There is also the ranger station which is home to a small group of wildlife rangers who keep this marine heritage alive. 

Facts about Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park’s Rules 

In 1993, the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park was announced as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It gives this massive seascape complete protection from any destructive activities. The diving activities conducted here are under the guidance of the rangers and the money made through this tourist activity goes into preserving the reefs. 

If you have booked last minute flights to Philippines just for a fun diving session at Tubbataha; here are some guidelines you will have to follow: 

  1. No Fishing: Tourists and fisherman are banned from spreading out their nets here. The rangers who live around the North Atoll are the only ones allowed to fish.
  2. You are not allowed to touch any of the flora and fauna above and below the sea. 
  3.  The rules include no feeding, chasing or collecting the marine wildlife. 
  4. You cannot get jet skis or any other motorized water sports equipment to this area. 
  5. Landing and cruising around the North and South Atoll are prohibited. 
  6. Tubbataha reef accommodation: There is no accommodation at the reef and you will have to stay on the Yacht that sailed you to the reef.
  7. You are prohibited from littering or any kind of pollution or vandalism. 

Suggested Read: Unleash the Beauty of these Untouched Places in Philippines

These are strict rules that are enforced by the rangers who take their job very seriously. Failure to comply with any of these rules will result in hefty fines and an immediate removal from the natural park.

Diving to experience this magnificent underwater terrain is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You can be part of this marine life and swim along with the colors of nature. Come face to face with rare sea creatures from clownfish to manta rays and occasionally hammerhead sharks. 

It is truly a sight to behold, gazing at the rawest form of nature without any human hindrance. Traveling is about having a good time but it is also about making a positive difference and a trip to Tubbataha not only enriches you but also funds a valuable cause. 

A French conservationist Jacques Yves Cousteau famously said, “For most of history, man has had to fight nature to survive; in this century he is beginning to realize that, in order to survive, he must protect it“. This could not be truer for all of us and especially for the travel enthusiasts. 

These facts about Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park are to educate you to have an easy going yet thrilling experience. Are you already looking up availability for this diving adventure? Then let us make things easier, check out iEagle for a quicker way to book flight tickets to the Philippines.

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