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Romancing the reefs with trouble in paradise

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

You never forget your first shark. It was 1989, and I was a relatively new scuba diver on my first weeklong dive trip to Tubbataha Reefs in the Sulu Sea. It was a perfectly clear summer’s day, and I had barely righted myself after nervously back-rolling into the ocean from the rubber dinghy that ferried divers from the big boat to the dive site, when I saw it—a beautiful 6-foot white tip reef shark with beady eyes, undulating gills and the most graceful movements I had ever seen in an animal.

Posted: January 27th, 2013 in Featured Gallery,Features,Latest Global Nation Stories,Philippines,Photos & Videos | Read More »