Pambato Reef “School in the Sea”

 Palawan is blessed , when it comes to gift of nature, Great site for adventure and relaxation.
 The home of exclusive and premier resorts white powdery pristine white sand beach,
showcasing  the abundance of marine life, and enormous bed of corals.
Pambato Reef  of Honda Bay in Puerto Princesa City is far different from the beautiful islands of Palawan,
Pambato Reef  is a floating platform in the middle of Honda Bay,  called as “Dalubkaragatan” means “School in the Sea” made up of wood,connected by bamboo bridges supported by empty plastic container to make it afloat.

The Rules and Regulation

 Pambato Reef  is protected marine sanctuary, where, there an strict implementation of the rules and regulation to all the visitors, as well as to the tour guide boat men and even to boat operator.

Some of the Rules to follow are:

1. Even you are the best swimmer, wearing of life jacket is strictly implemented.
2. Definitely no fish feeding.
3. Don’t go outside the perimeter
4.Leave your slippers in the floating house.
Before any activities within the reef, the said rules and regulation is clearly discuss one by one by the     incharge /staff of the Dalubkaragatan floating house.

The Activities

Pambato Reef is amazing snorkeling site in the bay.
The reef is a marine sanctuary, where giant clams are scattered around the reef, as well as different type and colorful fish swimming around the corals.
During the year 1970, Honda Bay was over fished, rampant illegal fishing like cyanide and dynamite fishing destroyed most of the corals reef  in the area.
In the area where suffered from the devastating effect of illegal fishing activities, Pambato Reef  was blissfulness spared and preserved.

The Discovery

Year 2006, the reef was accidentally discovered by a fishermen, whose hook got entangled  in the reef. The fishermen dive to remove the hook, and surprisingly discovered the wonderful, untouched bed of corals underneath the a frequent traveled area in the Bay.
The fishermen was a member of the Honda Bay Boat Owners Association Inc.HOBBAI,  informed his friend  regarding the discovery. The findings was reached in the knowledge of the leader of the association. The potential of the reef as added attraction in the bay, the association  considered  the reef  as one of the tourist attraction in the area.
With the initiative of the association (HOBBAI), they protect the reef by themselves and started to collect fees from  the tourist for the maintenance , without a legal mandate from the local government. It was become a big issues between the association and the local government because the declaration to protect the reef is illegal. The association stand strong to hold the protection to the reef, primarily it help to generate revenues for them. After some argument the legal issues has been settled, the reef got a legal status as protected areas. The reef become one of  the best tourist destination in Honda Bay.

The Protection 

Year 2007 with the assistance of the ABS CBN foundation established a program with the association (HOBBAI) on the environment, the Dalub Karagatan means “School in the Seas”, where people get to learn about coral ecosystem.
They build a floating raft  with a sea turtle  roof shape, and  they called school house.
The ABS CBN foundation trained the member of the association about the reef ecology and its importance.

The Study

Coral Reefs are the most spectacular underwater environments , and also the most fragile.

 One of the Earth’s and most unique , ancient and complex ecosystems.
Known  as the “rain forest of the sea” due to their incredible diversity

From a purely biological standpoint, coral reefs are extremely important to the ecosystem of the oceans at large. Islands of diversity ,they function also as nurseries, and feeding and breeding grounds to countless species. They also protect shorelines from erosion, and provide recreational opportunities and sources of income for millions of people who rely on them. Although they occupy  less than one percent of the ocean floor it inhabited by at least 25% of all marine species.  , they are home to a quarter of the known marine plant and animal species.

Coral reefs play a significant  role in the development of other ecosystems such as mangroves and wetlands and protect coastlines from wave and storm damage and erosion.  Life-saving medicines, such as anticoagulants, and anticancer  agents, such as prostaglandins, come from coral reefs.

The rocky framework of coral reefs is formed from the calcium carbonate deposited mainly by calcareous algae and the stony corals, most of which are colonial animals resembling tiny, interconnected sea anemones.
Reef building corals contain symbiotic algae in their tissues, enabling them to develop the large, massive, branching, or encrusting carbonate skeletons that provide habitat and food resources for support of other reef organisms, such as fish, lobsters, giant clams, and sea urchins to name a few.  Reefs maintain a network of intimate ecological relationships and delicate food webs.
Being evolved for millions of years, under a natural conditions, a healthy corals can recover from natural disturbance, such as hurricanes, floods ocean current and deceases within 10 to 20 years.
But they are no match for human destructive pattern and activities.

Corals reefs all over  the world are dying because of human  activity

Such human activities are:

•  Over-fishing, particularly of long lived, low density fish such as grouper, and
destructive fishing practices such as
the ubiquitous use of cyanide and dynamite to capture fish.
•  Pollution, especially from increased sedimentation (from
poor land use) that smothers the coral tissue and nutrients (from runoff) that promote algae growth which, in turn,suffocates the corals.
•  Physical damage from tourists damaging the reefs, anchors dropped in coral beds, and ships colliding with reefs.
•  Alteration of coastline habitats, such as cutting of mangroves, and other coastal habitats.
•  Harvesting live aquarium fish and coral for food, traditional medicine, and aquaria.
These bring high prices
and have resulted in destructive fishing practices that destroy the reefs, as well as their inhabitants.

Preservation

Ecologically-based management can provide important steps to restore reef ecosystems by addressing some of these threats.
For example, improved water quality and fisheries management are necessary to restore reef ecosystems.
 Protected areas such as sanctuaries,reserves, and no-fishing zones (where reef populations
can remain unharvested and protected) can allow damaged ecosystems to recover and enable baseline
studies on natural reef conditions to be conducted.

The Students

One of the keys to the program is giving the students (Tourist/Visitors) an opportunity to connect with nature.
To let them realize is not only biologically rich and source of beauty, but it provide many services to the communities (including them) around the world.
Lets protect, preserve our coral reefs for the next generation.
Pambatao Reef is part of Honda Bay island hopping tour.
Honda Bay in Puerto Princesa City is highly recommended to visit , where a cluster of beautiful islands and islets can be found. The bay is a great place for swimming, snorkeling, beach bumming, island hopping, diving and snorkeling.
The place is stunning above the sea water.

Honda Bay group of islands:

1.Pandan Island – A simple paradise in the group of Honda bay. Great site for snorkeling and diving.
2.Luli Island- A short term for Filipino word lulubog -lilitaw,  a small island visible at ebb tide and disappears under water during high tide..
 
3.Snake Island is a two kilometers zigzag sand bar shape like a snake. Walking till the end of the sand bar is exciting.
 
4. Star Fish Island. This island is popular for its fine white sand and clear water teems with star fish.
 
5. Other Islands.
Location 
Honda Bay was recognized as one of the best diving site in the Philippines.  located in Santa Lourdes Warf, Tagbanua, Puerto Princesa City.  About 20 to 30 minutes drive east of
Puerto Princesa City.
 This  is the most accessible, cheapest and has the most numbers of island to visit.   Aside from underground river , Honda Bay probably the second most visited place in the city, where there’s  great opportunity  to observe underwater life.

Getting Permit

The rapid success of Puerto Princesa Tourism Industry give a lot of time to wait for your turn. The new seven wonder of the world Puerto Princesa Underground River,presently is the crowd drawer, which requires advance booking before they accommodate visitors/tourists. Unlike the Under ground river, no need to get prior permit, just follow the line of  where you pay the environmental fee and boat permit. Fill up a form and write the name of the passengers. From the list of passenger they will asses the size of the boat needed for the group. After paying, they will give the name and number of the boat.
 
And the island hopping begins…….
 

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