Notes from Tubbataha

Red-footed Booby (Sula sula) and Brown Booby (...

Coming to this paradise called Tubbataha was a real privilege and I couldn’t help wonder its significance not only in Philippine waters but also in the neighbouring regions being named as the only marine World Heritage Site in UNESCO list in Southeast Asia.  I thought it would be suitable to mention what’s in this world of wonders.

This 97,030 hectare park is home to at least: over 600 species of fish;, 360 species of corals – 72% of coral genera in the world; 60 spcies algae; 7 species of se grasses; 12 species sharks; 13 species of dolphin and whales; nesting hawksbill and green sea turtles; 7 species of sea birds.

The park contains roughly 10,000 hectares of coral reefs and lies at the heart of the Coral Triangle, the center of marine biodiversity in the world;  Its islets represents the last intact seabird habitats in the country.  Jessie Beazley and Tubbataha Reefs are sources of coral and fish larvae seeding the Sulu Sea.

Tubbataha Seabirds are found  in North & South Islets: Black Noddy, Brown Booby, Brown Noddies, Lesser Frigate bird, Masked Booby,and  Red Footed Booby.

Seabirds have waterproof plumage and the ability to drink seawater. They inhabit remote areas and give birth to a few young. Migratory by nature, over a hundred species regularly visit Tubbataha but only eight types are recorded to breed locally.

They provide vital fertilizer for nutrient-poor sandbars, allowing the first waves of pioneer plants to survive.  Fossilized bird droppings form Phosphorite, a type of rock used for agricultural fertilizers.

Since the last century, numbers have dropped from 20 million to 400,000. The threats were animal and human predators, marine pollution and land development.

Each year it seems another animal is recorded extinct – or at the brink of extinction. One in four mammals is in danger of disappearing from the face of the earth as well as one in eight birds.  But half the human population is likely not even aware of the plummeting numbers, or that we’re losing some of the species right at home.

We hope that the citizens of this country would be aware about the treasures of this park and its significance.  We pray that everyone will help to strengthen the protection of Tubbataha!

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