The Tubbataha name originates from a Samal word which means “a large reef bare to the low tides”. Because of their nomadic lifestyle the Samal people of the sea frequently visited the large reef and would live there temporarily.
The Tubbataha Reef of the Sulu Sea in the Philippines is an atoll reef which means that it is a coral island with a lagoon in the middle of its body. Located 180km southeast from Puerto Princesa, a trip to the coral island is a 12-hour long ride by a boat. The reef has two main parts. The smaller of the two coral islands is located in the southern part having 5kilometers in length and 3kilometers wide. The larger one or also called the North Atoll has a length of 2kilometers and is 5kilometers in width. So far, there has been no permanent inhabitant living in the area. Fishermen only come and build shelters in the area by seasons. Tourists and divers would also visit the reef due to the fact that it has gained the reputation of being the best site for diving in the Philippines.The coral reef is popular for its walls that immediately ends and gives way to great depths. Divers find it wonderful to dive in from them. Various colonies of fish also dwell on the wonder of these walls. Parrotfish, hammerhead sharks, manta rays, napoleon wrasse and barracudas are some of which have been reported to be living in it. There are also some reports of whale and tiger sharks seen in the corals. The Tubbataha has over a thousand species many of which are endangered inhabiting its reef. Some of which are the lionfish, clownfish and hawksbill sea turtles. Its ecosystem is so diverse that it has been said to rival that of the marine life found the Great Barrier Reef. Recent researches show that it has an estimate of about 400 to 600 coral and fish species.
The Tubbataha Reef of Palawan is now called the Tubbataha National Marine Park. What makes it remarkable is its enormous size. In the year 1988 of August it was established as having an area of 82thousand acres. Later in 2006, its boundary was further increased by executive order to 200% by then president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. At present the PCSD (Palawan Council for Sustainable Development and DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) is responsible for its technical supervision.
The Tubbataha Seasons are those months when the waves are considered to be more safe and calm. It is also the season when divers and tourists visit the spot in large numbers. Travelers would fill the area especially during the Easter and the Golden Week of the Asian holidays. It has been advised that visitors would do well to book trips right after or somewhere in the middle of April as strong waves are still present during those days which may cause troubles for diving excursions and visibility in underwater.