A short tale from a shark researcher in Tubbataha

Ryan Murray of LaMaVe (3rd from the left) with the team of marine park rangers during his stay in Tubbataha

On March 15th I joined the rangers at the station on Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park and World Heritage Site. I was given the opportunity to join the rangers on their day-to-day patrols and monitoring activities. The overall richness and abundance of marine life in Tubbataha is a testament to the year-round work of the rangers. Aside from enforcing the law, the rangers are involved directly with all the monitoring surveys within the park, from coral reef assessments to seabird population counts.

I was there to conduct video surveys and use citizen science as a form of data collection. These non-invasive survey methods were part of an overall assessment of the population and biodiversity of elasmobranchs by the Large Marine Vertebrate Research Institute (LaMaVe).

Over 50 whale sharks and 5 tiger sharks were identified in the 2015 season purely from encounters with divers. The valuable information that can be collected by divers proves just how powerful ‘Citizen Science’ can be for conservation. We would like to thank everybody who contributed their videos, photos, time and energy in helping us in our surveys. None of this would have been possible without the involvement of all the liveaboards throughout the season.

A huge amount of work is required on land, at the Tubbataha Management Office, to ensure that the park retains its pristine ecosystem. They make sure that Tubbataha remains the natural wonder that it is to divers and a safe haven to numerous marine life throughout the Sulu Sea. A big Thank You goes to Angelique Songco and the rest of Tubbataha Management Office for their endless hard work and dedication in helping to maintain the park’s health.

A massive Thank You to all the rangers involved but especially Segundo, Jeff, Manny and Roy. Right now the rangers are out in the middle of the Sulu Sea providing a deterrent to illegal fishing activities in the park. Without their presence, Tubbataha would simply not exist as it does now.

Playing volleyball with the rangers and guests in Tubbataha

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