Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Tubbataha Adventure Day2: Ranger Station

I woke up refreshed and excited on our second day at sea aboard the M/Y Zamerdius. We were still anchored in Shark Airport in Tubbataha's North Atoll, surrounded by the clear waters of the Sulu Sea. The itinerary the same for the morning: divers head out before breakfast, snorkeling beside the boat, breakfast, then head out to Bird Islet for birding.

I was more confident getting in the water this time and I spent a longer time snorkeling too! Gibo and I were awed by the sight of a HUGE school of fish passing by the boat!

This is a poor photo of the wonderful sight we were treated to!

As I made my way up the boat, I heard Gibo call from the water "Maia! Look!" and look I did! I looked in the direction Gibo was facing and saw a small Blacktip Reef Shark swimming slowly just below us! How cool was that?! As the shark swam further away, I tore myself from the sea and went aboard the boat to have breakfast.

The divers arrived in very high spirits a few minutes after and we learned that they encountered a Whale Shark during their dive! How awesome it must have been! They excitedly shared their experience over breakfast and after, while we were slowly preparing to head out to Bird Islet, there were excited calls from the crew! Whale Shark just beside the boat!!!

Amazing sighting that morning!

I tugged at Arne's elbow towards the side of the boat as he was pouring some creamer into his cup of coffee just in time to see the Whale Shark slowly emerge from the deeper part of the water. It skimmed the water's surface just beside the boat and swam alongside it for a few seconds before circling and going under the boat. It made another appearance before it swam further away from us. THAT left us all exhilarated and in disbelief at our good luck! 

As our excitement subsided, we boarded the dinghy and made our way to Bird Islet. As we passed the sandbar, we spotted the Pacific Reef Egrets and Chinese Egrets together with the small flock of Great Crested Terns.

Dark phase Pacific Reef Egret and Chinese Egret

We approached the Islet and enjoyed the spectacle of birds flying around us and those on the islet. We spotted some Great Crested Terns with eggs on the sand!


Lots of bird activity!

Even point-and-shoot cameras and phone cameras produced awesome
photos from Bird Islet!

Dead center: Great Crested Tern with its egg!

We tried to spot the Masked Booby from the previous day, especially for Rocco and Monique, but sadly the bird did not show. Possibly it was out fishing or in a hidden spot in the Plaza. We had our fill of Bird Islet and bid it farewell. We found our way back to the Zamerdius and headed towards the Ranger Station, still on the North Atoll.

Ruddy Turnstone... they have been observed to break open other birds' eggs
that are on the sand! 😲

Brown Booby


After lunch on the boat, we made our way to the Ranger Station. It was low tide so we had to walk in shallow water to get to the station. It is the only place in Tubbataha where visitors are allowed ashore.

As we approached we spotted some Great Crested Terns
and a Little Tern on the sand
The Ranger Station and their volleyball court

Walking to the station

We logged in our names and met the park rangers. Of course we also went shopping! Too bad their shirts were too big for me, so I just bought pasalubongs: shirts, plushies, and a sticker for me! ;)

Goodies from the Ranger Station!

Completed in 2000, the Ranger Station, located at the southernmost tip of North Atoll, is home to the marine park rangers from the Philippine Navy, Philippine Coast Guard, the Municipality of Cagayancillo, and the Tubbataha Management Office. They stay months at a time stationed at the ranger station. The rangers conduct patrols to make sure that illegal fishing and harvesting of marine life is controlled and stopped. They also have regular cleanups to prevent trash and debris from piling up in the different areas of the park.

The Ranger Station

That's me and Lu-Ann with some of the Park rangers

Gibo and I have been chatting about playing volleyball on the ranger station when we spotted their net and court. We asked some of the Rangers and they gamely agreed to play! I tried my best... but I am most definitely NOT a sports person, as my friends discovered first-hand that day. 😝

Volleyball in Tubbataha!

I look like I actually hit the ball in this photo!
(I didn't!)
Photo by Rommel Cruz

Volleyball team group hug!!!
Photo by Rommel Cruz

We said our goodbyes to the Rangers, took some photos, and headed back to the Zamerdius. We would be re-positioning to the South Atoll next.

Group shot!!! Photo by Rommel Cruz

We made our way to the South Atoll and as we approached, I took the time to setup an "office" on the top deck and write my notes for the day.

My work space with the lighthouse in the horizon

The South Atoll has a lighthouse that was build in the 1980's. 

We anchored in the area as the sun was setting and Arne gave a lecture about the area as we scanned the islet for birds and there were a lot of Noddies and Red-footed Boobies flying back to the islet.

Learning about South Islet from Arne

Soon it was dark and we were being served dinner. Gina shared her delicious chai masala tea (and shared her recipe with me too!!) as an after dinner treat 😍 Relaxed and overflowing with happiness from another wonderful day, I climbed into my bunk bed and went to sleep, excited for what the following day had in store for us.

To be continued...

3 comments:

  1. Do u have any pictures of the rangers there cos one of of the rangers there is my husband

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    1. Hello! Just the group pic I posted above, although hindi po sila complete.

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