Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Vote for Tubbataha Reef

Hey guys, please vote for Tubbataha Reef as one of our bets to the New Seven Wonders of Nature. Please click here to vote.


Tubbataha is a reef ecosystem made up of two atolls located in the middle of the Sulu Sea. It is a sanctuary for marine life. The reefs lie on the Cagayan Ridge, a line of extinct underwater volcanoes which starts from the north at the Sultana Shoal and ends in the south at the San Miguel Islands. It is located 92 nautical miles southeast of Puerto Princesa City, Palawan and 80 nautical miles southwest of Cagayancillo, the municipality that exercises political jurisdiction over it. It was proclaimed as a National Marine Park on August 11, 1988 and inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage in 1993, in recognition of its outstanding universal value in terms of marine life species diversity and richness.

The name Tubbataha comes from the dialect of the Samal, seafaring people of the Sulu region, and means 'long reef exposed at low tide'. Tubbataha consists of two atolls made up of roughly 10,000 hectares of corals and many other forms of marine life. There is very little land in Tubbataha. Each atoll has just one islet, the highest of which is only two metres above sea level. The atolls have shallow lagoons and are surrounded by 200 to 500 metres of reef flat which ends in a steep drop off into deep water. The reef crests, which mark the atolls' edges, are exposed above the water's surface at low tide.

Tubbataha is well known among the fisher folk of the southern Philippines. It was called 'Gusong' by the islanders of Cagayancillo, literally meaning 'coral reef.' Until the late 1970s, Cagayanons were the primary users of Tubbataha's resources. During the summer months, they would make month-long fishing trips in fleets of locally built wooden sailboats called pangko or balangay.

For most of its existence, Tubbataha's remoteness has been its greatest protector against over exploitation. It is open to the shifting winds that affect the Philippines - the habagat, amihan and daplak which bring rough seas, fierce storms and brief periods of calm. The safest months for travel to Tubbataha are during the summer months, from March to May.

The first recorded visit to Tubbataha was made by naturalist Dean Worcester in 1911. He described the north islet - called Bird Island because of its role as a nesting ground for thousands of seabirds - as 'a low, flat, sandy island…some 400 metres long and 75 metres wide.' Seventy years later, when ornithologist Robert Kennedy visited the island, he noted that it had shrunk in size by almost 70 per cent. Today Bird Island is a mere 23 per cent of the area recorded in 1911, just one indicator of how dynamic the forces of nature are at Tubbataha.

Tubbataha reef is currently at the seventh spot so please keep the votes coming in. =)

(Source: Tubbatahareef.Org)

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