An observer witnesses a Masked Booby nurturing its chick at the Bird Islet in Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, located in Palawan province. | File photo by Jeffrey Madrid David (Tubbataha Management Office)

A team of experts and volunteers has embarked on a journey to study the seabirds in Tubbataha in a bid to better understand them and their role in the marine ecosystem.

The management of the marine park and World Heritage Site said the team is composed of expert seabird consultant Arne Jensen with research assistant Angelo Ganotice.

They are joined by volunteers JC Gonzalez of UP Los Baños, Lisa Panguntalan, and Godfrey Jakosalem of the Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, Inc. (PBCFI), Teri Aquino of Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines (MWWP), Erickson Tabayag of Conservation International (CI) Philippines, Protected Area Superintendent Krystal Villanada, Ranger Roberto Beringuela of Apo Reef Natural Park (ARNP), Tubbataha Management Office (TMO) researchers Rowell Alarcon and Gerlie Gedoria, marine park rangers Jeffrey David and Cresencio Caranay Jr, and Angelique Songco, also known as Mama Ranger.

“Seabird conservation is crucial in Tubbataha, as these beautiful creatures play a vital role in the marine ecosystem. They are not only a source of beauty and wonder but also help maintain the balance of the ecosystem,” the TMO said.

Seabird populations face various threats, including climate change and habitat loss, which is why the research team is putting in great efforts to gather essential data on on Tubbataha birds’ behavior, distribution, and population.

“We’re so proud of our team for taking on this critical mission and can’t wait to hear about their findings. Their work will help us better understand these magnificent birds and take appropriate conservation actions to protect them. Let’s support our seabird conservation efforts in Tubbataha!” it said. 

Tubbataha is home to many species of seabirds, including the Brown Booby, Red-footed Booby, Great Frigatebird, Lesser Frigatebird, Black Noddy, Brown Noddy, Sooty Tern, Bridled Tern, Black-tailed Tern, Little Tern, and Common White Tern.