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Coral Bleaching Hits Tubbataha Reef

It is one of only six World Heritage Sites in the Philippines. 
IMAGE FLICKR / q phia
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The Philippines only has six World Heritage Sites recognized by UNESCO, and the Tubbataha Reefs is one of them. Unfortunately it is in danger of being erased from the world forever. 

Tubbataha Reef once baffled scientists when it remained pristine while all the world’s great coral reefs were experiencing massive bleaching. As recent as July 12, National Geographic featured the Tubbataha Reefs in an article titled “How the Philippines’ Coral heart Keeps Beating.” 

“As corals worldwide find themselves besieged, Tubbataha Reef remains shockingly pristine. Why?” reads the article’s opener. 

Tubbataha Reef

tubbataha- amos rock- a smattering of fishes

tubbataha- lighthouse- table coral in red

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Photos By FLICKR / q phia

But grim news has befallen the World Heritage Site as coral bleaching has been reported at Kook Reef, Delsan Wreck Reef, and Jessie Beazley Reef 

Jessie Beazly Reef is one of the more famous sites at Tubbataha Reefs. It even has its own Underwater Google Street View so you can virtually explore its rich marine life. 

ALSO READ: Google Earth Has a Street View of Tubbataha Reef

The Tubbataha Management Office (TMO) published a report on July 13 on the state of the marine sanctuary based on surveys it conducted from May 26 to June 2. 

“When corals are stressed by changes in conditions such as temperature, light, or nutrients, they expel the symbiotic algae living in their tissues, causing them to turn completely white or bleached,” the TMO’s statement reads. 

According to the TMO, different species of corals have changed color from fluorescent to white as a result of the expulsion of their symbiotic algae. 

The severity of the bleaching in the affected areas is mild to moderate. 

Coral Bleaching at Tubbataha Reefs

Photo by Tubbataha Management Office.
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Photo by Tubbataha Management Office.

Photo by Tubbataha Management Office.

A bleached coral is not yet dead.

Conservationists at the TMO said bleached corals are still alive, but could soon die if conditions that caused the bleaching persist. 

The Tubbataha Reefs is the heart of Asia’s Coral Triangle. It has the highest marine biodiversity on the planet and is home to 75 percent of the world’s described coral species and 40 percent of all the world’s described reef fish.

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Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor, Esquire Philippines
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