We are already halfway on our Tubbataha Dive Logs series, but before we proceed, let us take a break to have a peek of how the place looks like above sea level with this photo blog.
Located in the open water of Sulu Sea, the UNESCO World Heritage Tubbataha Reefs is under the jurisdiction of the town of Cagayancillo, Palawan. It is believed that around 90% of the marine species in Philippine waters are found here. The area is comprised of two coral atolls, the North and South, which are eight kilometers apart, and the Jessie Beazley Reef, covering a total of 33,200 hectares.
Simply put it like this, the surface area is composed of white sandbars that submerge during high tide.
Here are some of the images I took above the reefs of Tubbataha.
The Tubbataha Sunset: The unobstructed view of the sun as it slowly hides in the seemingly endless horizon is truly a sight to behold. As the the darkness envelopes the reefs, a whole new underwater world is revealed as nocturnal marine species come to life.
Lonely Sentinel of Tubbataha: The lighthouse of Tubbataha is perhaps the loneliest of all the lonely sentinels of the Philippine seas.Originally built in 1938 in the islet of South Atoll, the lighthouse serves as navigational aid to the sailors at night. It has an 15-meter octagonal concrete tower on octagonal keeper’s house that flashes two white lights every 10 seconds.
A Bird Sanctuary: Tubbataha’s actions are not only concentrated below. Because its sandbars and islets are home to unique species of sea birds, thus the place is considered also as bird sanctuary. The sandbar in the picture above is in front of the Ranger Station in North Atoll, it submerges during high tide. The islet in the South Atoll, where the lighthouse is located, is home to a large number of nesting sea birds, it is highly restricted to general public.
Home Away From Home: Rangers are assigned to guard Tubbataha for two months, and their simple life in their small world revolves in the 33,200 hectares of underwater life and probably some time lazing in this wooden balcony, waiting for uncertainty and the day of their return to mainland.
The Colors of Tubbataha: The sun painted the sky with its burning colors after sunset, one of the many vivid colors of Tubbataha.
Divers’ Boat: Divers on live aboard cruise use small trigger boats like this to go to the dive sites. Cruise ships, like the Hans Christian Andersen as shown afar (upper left) are not allowed to get close to the reef.
The Ranger Station: The power rangers of Tubbataha stay here for two months to guard and patrol the park. They are made up of competent people from Philippine Navy, Tubbataha Management Office, WWF Philippines and the Local Government Unit.
Underwater Action: On the surface, the place looks dull and boring. But below is an action packed underwater world, a marine paradise and a dream destination for most divers. The sandbar above is in the southwestern part of Northern Atoll, with the Amos Rock on the right side partially revealed on the surface.
Gotcha: No one is allowed to enter the park premises without approval from the Tubbataha Management Office. The wooden boats above are probably some of those who knowingly or unknowingly entered the premises illegally that are captured by the rangers.