Tubbataha Reef is an atoll coral reef located in the Sulu Sea of the Philippines. It is a marine sanctuary protected as Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park. It is nominated at the New 7 Wonders of Nature.
There are no permanent inhabitants of the islets or reefs. Fishermen visit the area seasonally, establishing shelters on the islets. The park is visited by tourists, particularly divers. Trips to Tubbattaha from mid-March to mid-June are all vessel-based; the park is about twelve hours by boat from Puerto Princesa City. Tubbataha is considered as the best dive site in the Philippines and the diving dedicated ships that operate during the "Tubbataha Season" are usually booked years in advance especially during the Asian holidays of Easter and "Golden Week".
Tubbataha has become a popular site for seasoned sports divers because of its coral "walls" where the shallow coral reef abruptly ends giving way to great depths. These "walls" are not only wonderful diving spots but they are also wonderful habitats for many colonies of fish. There are giant jacks, hammerhead sharks, barracudas, manta rays, palm-sized Moorish idols, parrot fishes, and moral eels living in the sanctuary. Tubbataha is even home to the hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) which are endangered species. (Knipp 24)
Vivid corals cover more than two-thirds of the area and the waters around the reef are places of refuge for numerous marine lives. The seemingly diverse ecosystem of this sanctuary rivals the Great Barrier Reef – having 300 coral species and 400 fish species. (Knipp 22, 24)
Aside from being a marine sanctuary, Tubbataha is also renowned for being a bird sanctuary. A lighthouse islet, at the southern tip of the South Atoll, supports a large number of seabirds which nest there. Around the Tubbataha, there are tens of thousands of masked red-foot boobies, terns, and frigate birds resting during their annual migrations. To minimize any external intrusions, the Philippine Coast Guard maintains a small monitoring station on one of the many permanent sand bars.(Knipp 24)
Declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in December 1993, it is under protective management by the Philippines Department of National Defense (DND). It is under technical supervision by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) & the Department of Environment & Natural Resources (DENR). It is administered as part of Cagayancillo town on Palawan. It is also nominated in the new 7 wonders of nature.