Coral bleaching hits Tubbataha due to extreme heat

by Jun 3, 2024Featured Article, News

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, PALAWAN, Philippines — The Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (TRNP) is suffering from coral bleaching due to prolonged heat brought by the El Niño phenomenon, a report from the Tubbataha Management Office said.

TRNP Superintendent Angelique Songco said the coral bleaching was initially thought to be “minor” and at “a lesser degree than expected” until she saw the photos taken from the park’s South Park dive site of the reef’s north atoll on May 27.

According to Songco, the photos she received from marine park ranger Jeffrey David taken from the South Park, north Tubbataha showed that “the real deal is beginning—no, it has begun—and we cannot do anything about it!”

“By now, the corals our group admired just last week may be stressed, if not dead,” she revealed in a blog post “Mama Ranger Diaries” in the park’s official Facebook page last May 28. (Songo is popularly known as “Mama Ranger” to park rangers).

The 97,030-hectare park, which is under the jurisdiction of Palawan province’s Cagayancillo town and located around 146 kilometers (91 miles) southeast of this city, lies in the middle of Sulu Sea and forms part of the coral triangle and is considered as the center of the country’s marine biodiversity. It is home to around 360 coral species representing 75 percent of known coral species, and not less than 600 or 40 percent of the world’s reef fish, including 11 shark species, 13 dolphins and whales, and around 100 bird species. Its sandbars are also known as nesting grounds for Hawksbill and green sea turtles.