Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site is not exempted in having bleached corals, these modifications in color of corals to white or bleached are caused by stress through the changes in conditions such as temperature, light or nutrients because they expel the symbiotic algae living in their tissues.
The appearance of bleached corals are found in the vicinity of Kook, Delsan Wreck, and Jessie Beazley Reef was discovered recently during the coral monitoring of researchers from Tubbataha Management Office (TMO) last May 26 to June 2.
“After several weeks, on June 23 and 24, 2020, other kinds of corals were observed to have turned from florescent to completely white in color. These include encrusting (Isopora), branching (Stylopora, Poccilopora, Millepora), foliose (Montipora), massive (Goniopora), solitary corals (Fungia), and even soft corals in most sites in Tubbataha,” TMO official statement said.
The said corals are not yet dead but if the said changes continue, this may lead to coral’s death. The research also said that they see same bleaching activity of corals near the ranger station.
“Behind the ranger station inside the lagoon, varying degrees of bleaching amongst branching and tabular (Acropora), massive (Porites), solitary (Fungia), and other kinds of coral were observed. Some started to show signs of stress, turning florescent, while others were completely white. The severity of bleaching in the lagoon may be described as moderate (Category 3),” TMO statement said.
Tubbataha Reef, found in Cagayancillo, is a marine and bird sanctuary and considered as one of the popular tourist dive sites every summer in Palawan. Last April-May the Park didn’t allow any diving activities in accordance with the government procedures pursuant to Republic Act No. 11469 or the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act,” Proclamations Nos. 929 and 922 series of 2020.