Tubbataha Seabirds: All-time High

On May 11 – 16, TMO conducted its second quarter seabird monitoring in TRNP with ornithologists, volunteers and staff.  Bird and South islets as well as Jessie Beazley Reef and other sand cays in TRNP were visited to count the breeding population of seabirds.  Here are some of the highlights of this year’s trip.

The population of seabirds and their breeding habitat in TRNP have been comprehensively monitored since 2004, following the methods adapted from the Biodiversity Monitoring System of the DENR.  Breeding data (adults, sub-adults, juveniles, eggs and nests) of the six resident breeding species – Brown Booby, Red-footed Booby, Great Crested Tern, Sooty Tern, Brown Noddy and Black Noddy – are prioritized in the monitoring. Photo by: Godo Jakosalem

The total number of breeding adults this year has increased by 9%; from 38,218 last year to 41,794.  The increase is attributed to the high number of Great Crested and Sooty Terns in Bird Islet, the highest count ever recorded for these species in Tubbataha. Photo by: Teri Aquino

This year’s seabird census was led by PASu Angelique Songco and Mr. Arne Jensen, avifauna consultant for TRNP.  Members of the team included TMO staff Segundo Conales Jr, Jeffrey David, Crisencio Caranay Jr., Noel Bundal, Retchie Pagliawan, Rowell Alarcon, Gerlie Gedoria; Marine Park Rangers – Sgt Rudy Tani PN(M), April Jay Santuele PCG and Angelito Favila (LGU Cagayancillo); Volunteers – Lisa Marie Paguntalan and Philip Godfrey Jacosalem (PBCFI), Juan Carlos Gonzalez (UPLB), Teri Aquino (TMO) and Angelo Ganotice.  Photo by: Teri Aquino

Tubbataha’s lone Masked Booby, presumed to be the same individual recorded these last two years, occupy its ‘turf’  in the plaza of the Bird islet.

A dramatic decrease in the number of Black Noddies was observed last year, believed to be due to the loss of vegetation in the islets.  As an experiment, TMO initiated the construction of seven nesting structures in Bird Islet.   From 809 adults last year, a total 2,445 were counted this year – still much less than in the previous years.  Additional structures will be built in the two islets.  Photo by: JC Gonzalez

This nipa hut served as the ‘headquarters’ of the survey team in Bird islet.

Temperatures reached as high as 38°Celsius in the islet.  Aside from providing these umbrellas, Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc., also funded the seabird census.  Thank you, PSFI for your consistent support!

WWF-Philippine’s MY Navorca crew took a break and enjoyed Tubbataha’s underwater scenery with PASu Songco.

Fun in the sun; our version of ‘dab pose’.