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Tubbataha Reef makes for some of the most unforgettable scuba diving experiences in the Coral Triangle. Here are the most popular diving sites.
Located at the northeast corner of Tubbataha’s South Atoll, the Black Rock plateau slopes gently from 15 to 25 m in depth. Whitetip sharks can often be seen sleeping on the seabed or cruising in search of prey with a bluefin trevally in tandem.
This dive is also known for sightings of 2 titan triggerfish which can often be found at the start of the dive.
Named for the remains of a small ship which sank at the southeastern edge of South Atoll, this dive is known for sightings of big fish.
When the current is running, grey reef sharks are often found hunting schools of fish feeding within ‘The Cut’—a 30m meter deep by 20m wide crevasse in the coral. Recent sightings have even included a tiger shark.
Adventurous divers looking for a glimpse of schooling hammerhead sharks in the deep blue choose to take the plunge at Tubbataha’s Malayan Wall.
Named after the wreck of the Malayan (a small shipwreck at the beginning of the dive), divers swim out into the open Sulu Sea as far as they can without getting disoriented, searching the deep blue water for large sharks and other pelagic species.
The dive finishes up at a coral reef wall which is inhabited by moray eels, angel fish, sea fans, great barracuda, red snapper, and several species of grouper.
Known as one of Tubbataha’s most fertile dive sites, the Shark Airport is made up of a wide plateau at 15 m dropping off to a shelf at 25 m.
Endangered hawksbill and green sea turtles can often be found searching the sunny shallows in search of corals to munch on while whitetip sharks cruise the sloping dropoff.
The Shark Airport is also a popular spot for night dives since it is relatively shallow and offers the chance to see fimbriated moray eels, blackspotted pufferfish, and giant star pufferfish.
One of the most popular coral reef wall dives within the Tubbataha park, ‘Wall Street’ is a sheer wall dive plunging deep into the blue of the Sulu Sea. Notable sightings at the ‘Wall Street’ dive include Napoleon Wrasse, and blacksaddle coral grouper. Lucky divers have even spotted a whale shark here.
Named for the unpredictable currents which sometimes change direction in the middle of a dive, the Washing Machine is located at the exposed northeastern edge of Tubbataha.
Known for having some of the best visibility of any dive site within the Marine Park, this dive site is home to grey reef sharks and an amazing diversity of tropical coral reef fish.
The WWF / Freund Factory Expedition is an 18-month photojournalistic journey to investigate the connectivity between the wildlife and peoples of the Coral Triangle and the threats they face.
It was the first dive of the trip, and it started with very slight current and some fan corals. The highlight of the dive came towards the end, when we reached the wreck in very shallow waters.
There were sweetlips and a nearby school of jacks, which promptly went towards the wreck, making for some very nice pictures. Other people on our group saw four stingrays and lot of baby grey reef sharks—about 10, they said.