Tubbataha still open to divers

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REEFS ON THE ROCKS A diver observes a sleeping shark on a ledge at the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park. Made up of two atolls, Tubbataha’s vertiginous walls are home to 12 species of sharks. Overfished because of the sharks’ valuable fins, Tubbataha offers one of the last guaranteed shark dives in the world. Although protected year-round by armed rangers who are stationed in two-month shifts, the reefs were defenseless against the rude intrusion of a US minesweeper three days ago when it ran aground in the Unesco-named World Heritage Site. YVETTE LEE/CONTRIBUTOR – See more at: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/63203/unesco-willing-to-assess-tubbataha-reef-damage#sthash.zQfrfqJP.dpuf

MANILA, Philippines—The ongoing salvage operations for the United States Navy warship USS Guardian, which remains grounded at the Tubbataha Reef, will not prevent diving enthusiasts from exploring the underwater beauty of the diving site.

Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Palawan District commander Commodore Enrico Efren Evangelista said divers would still be allowed by the Tubbataha Management Office (TMO) to explore parts of the coral reef not affected by the grounding incident.

The USS Guardian ran aground in Tubbataha Reef and damaged about 4,000 square meters of the atoll.

Evangelista said there are about 15 dive sites around Tubbataha and only two dive sites were affected as these are very near the grounding site.

“Tubbataha Reef is very wide. There are 13 other dive sites in the area that would remain open for local and foreign tourists to visit,” he added.

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