Tubbataha Reef: Exploring the Biodiversity of the Coral Triangle on the Frontier of the Philippines
Tubbataha Reef uncovered
Where is Tubbataha Reef?Tubbataha reef lies in the middle of the Sulu Sea, approximately 50km southeast of Puerto Princesa City in Palawan, the most western province of the Philippines.
Distance from the mainland is good for conservation—Tubbataha is reachable only by boat, a journey which takes 10 to 12 hours and is only attempted from mid-march to mid-june. This means the reef receives less pressure from fishermen than the coral reefs located closer to population centers.
How the Tubbataha Reef Marine Protected Area was createdFishermen in the Southern Philippines have known about Tubbataha for generations, embarking from their villages in small fleets of traditional wooden sailboats every summer for their annual Tubbataha fishing expeditions.
By the 1980’s these traditional sailboats were disappearing to be replaced by motorized boats traveling from ever-increasing distances to grab a share Tubbataha’s fishing wealth.
Alarmed by the decline of Tubbataha’s spectacular coral reef, a small group of divers and environmentalists launched a vigorous campaign to save Tubbataha.
In 1988, the Provincial Government of Palawan endorsed the idea, and President Corazon Aquino declared Tubbataha a National Marine Park. In 1992, the site was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Read about threats to the Coral Triangle and WWF's work to protect the Coral Triangle—the 6 million km2 ecosystem upon which Tubbataha Reef and millions of people depend ►
Tubbataha Reef Biodiversity
- +/- 600 species of tropical fish
- 359 species of corals (+/- 50% of all coral species in the world)
- 14 species of sharks including tiger sharks, whitetip sharks, and blacktip sharks. Whale sharks have also been sighted at Tubbataha from time to time
- 12 species of dolphins & whales
- A nesting population of endangered hawksbill and green sea turtles
- Over 100 species of birds, including rare migratory birds
How to visit Tubbataha
View Tubbataha Reef in a larger map