Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park
The Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (Filipino: Bahurang Tubbataha) is a protected area of the Philippines located in the middle of Sulu Sea. The marine and bird sanctuary consists of two huge atolls (named the North Atoll and South Atoll) and the smaller Jessie Beazley Reef covering a total area of 97,030 hectares (239,800 acres; 374.6 sq mi). It is located 150 kilometres (93 mi) southeast of Puerto Princesa City, the capital of Palawan province. The uninhabited islands and reefs are part of the island municipality of Cagayancillo, Palawan, located roughly 130 kilometres (81 mi) to the northeast of the reef.
In December 1993, the UNESCO declared the Tubbataha Reefs National Park as a World Heritage Site as a unique example of an atoll reef with a very high density of marine species; the North Islet serving as a nesting site for birds and marine turtles. The site is an excellent example of a pristine coral reef with a spectacular 100-m perpendicular wall, extensive lagoons and two coral islands. In 1999, Ramsar listed Tubbataha as one of the Wetlands of International Importance. In 2008, the reef was nominated at the New 7 Wonders of Nature.
The national park and the rest of the Philippine archipelago is part of the Coral Triangle, recognized as a center of marine biodiversity containing 75% of the described coral species and 40% of the world's reef fish. The area is under a grave threat due to overfishing and destructive fishing practices. Research of scientists visiting the reefs since the 1980s revealed that the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park contains no less than 600 fish species, 360 coral species, 11 shark species, 13 dolphin and whale species, and 100 bird species. The reefs also serve as a nesting ground for Hawksbill and Green sea turtles.