Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park

September 16, 2010

Tubbataha Reef is an atoll coral reef placed in the Sulu Sea of the Philippines. It is a marine sanctuary protected as Tubbataha Reef National aquatic Park. It is nominated at the New 7 Wonders of Nature. The word tubbataha is a combination of 2 Samal words: tubba and taha, which together means “a long reef exposed at low tide”. Over 1000 species inhabit in the reef, many are already considered as endangered. Fauna species noticed include manta rays, lionfish, tortoise, clownfish, & sharks. Vivid corals cover more than two-thirds of the area & the waters around the reef are places of refuge for numerous aquatic lives. The seemingly diverse ecosystem of this sanctuary rivals the Great Barrier Reef – having 350 coral species & 500 fish species. In June 2009 an outbreak of the crown-of-thorns starfish was observed, possibly affecting the ecological functioning of this relatively pristine coral reef. Tubbataha is also renowned for being a bird sanctuary. A lighthouse islet, at the southern tip of the South Atoll, holds a large number of seabirds w/c nest there. Around the Tubbataha, there are tens of thousands of masked red-foot boobies, terns, and frigate birds resting during their annual migrations. To minimize any external intrusions, the Philippine Coast Guard maintains a small monitoring station on one of the many permanent sand bars.


The Tubbataha National underwater Park, located at the Central Sulu Sea, is a aquatic sanctuary containing a reef of enormous size. It was established in August 11, 1988 with an area of 332 km² or 82,000 acres. In 2006, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, through an Executive Order, increased the boundaries of the park by 200%. It is now 968.24 km² or 239,000 acres in size & is guarded by armed rangers 24 hours/ 7 days a week. Declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in December 1993, it is under protective management by the Philippines Department of National Defense (DND). It is under technical supervision by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) & the Department of Environment & Natural Resources (DENR). It is administrated as part of Cagayancillo town on Palawan.

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