THE TUBBATAHA REEF
The name 'Tubbataha' is a Samal word for "long reef exposed at low tide". Samals are seafaring people of the Sulu Sea. Cagayanen people who are more geographically associated with Tubbataha Reefs referred the Park as 'gusong'. Location
Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (TRNP) lies in the middle of the Sulu Sea and falls under the political jurisdiction of Cagayancillo, an island municipality situated 130km to the north. The park is around 150km southeast of Puerto Princesa City - capital of the Province of Palawan - the usual jump-off point for visitors and dive boats going to Tubbataha. It is composed of the North and South atolls and the Jessie Beazley Reef. Formation
The coral atolls of Tubbataha and Jessie Beazley began to form thousands of years ago as fringing reefs of volcanic islands along the Cagayan Ridge. Over millennia - as the volcanoes became extinct and the islands sunk into the ocean depths - only the corals remained and they continued to grow upwards towards the sunlight. History
Tubbataha is well known to fishermen of the southern Philippines but until the late 1970s, Cagayanons were the primary users of the reefs' resources. During the summer, they would make fishing trips to Tubbataha in fleets of traditional wooden sailboats. Tubbataha's isolation and its susceptibility to harsh weather once protected it from over-exploitation. But by the 1980s, fishermen from other parts of the Philippines started exploiting Tubbataha in motorized boats, many using destructive fishing techniques to maximize their catch. In 1988 - in response to a vigorous campaign by Philippine scuba divers and environmentalists alike - President Corazon Aquino declared Tubbataha a National Marine Park. Biodiversity
Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is home to no less than:
* 573 species of fish
* 379 species of corals (about half of all coral species in the world) * 11 species of sharks
* 12 species of dolphins & whales
* Nesting Hawksbill & Green sea turtles
* Over 100 species of birds
The park contains roughly 10,000 hectares of coral reef, lying at the heart of the Coral Triangle - the centre of global marine biodiversity. Larvael Dispersal
In 2007, the University of the Philippines in the Visayas conducted a study on the distribution and dispersal of fish larvae in the Sulu Sea. The study reveals that Jessie Beazley and Tubbataha Reefs are sources of coral and fish larvae, seeding the greater Sulu Sea. This is of huge significance, since the Philippines - the second largest archipelago in the world - relies heavily on its marine resources for livelihood and food. Management
The Tubbataha Protected Area Management Board (TPAMB) is the multi-sector body that formulates policies for Tubbataha. Established in 1999, it is made up of a wide range of stakeholders from the public and private sector. The Tubbataha Management Office (TMO) - based in Puerto Princesa City - serves as its TPAMB's executive arm, carrying out day-to-day park management. In the Management Plan formulated by the TPAMB, the following programs and strategies where identified to effectively conserve and protect the Park: Conservation Management.
* Conserving and protecting the park requires prudent use of human and other resources to maximize scarce financial assets by a competent organization that practices the principles of adaptive management. Activities such as law enforcement and tourism fall under this program. Conservation Awareness.
* This program aims to promote awareness, generate support and achieve voluntary compliance with regulations. It seeks to foster a holistic view of the park ecosystem as an interrelated and interdependent system, thus engender a sense of stewardship towards the marine environment Ecosystem Research and Monitoring.
* A regular, uninterrupted monitoring regime and dependable scientific assessments provide inputs for anticipating potential problems and serve as basis for...
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