Bumphead Parrotfish in Tubbataha: Underwater Photo Gallery

Underwater Photo Gallery: Best of Tubbataha’s Coral Reefs



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Explore the amazing coral reefs of Tubbataha, Palawan’s UNESCO World Heritage Site with this gallery of underwater photos.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    One big challenge of taking photos underwater at Tubbataha is choosing a subject for your photo (out of the literally thousands of marine animals you'll find here). In this shot I lucked out with a sweetlips swimming towards me so I waited until it angled past me to get into the lower third of the frame.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    Bumphead parrotfish are very rare in most places but you can definitely find them in Tubbataha. I'm still not sure why Pixar didn't include a parrotfish in 'Finding Nemo', it would have made a great character!

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    Fan corals like the one in the lower right of this frame can be a great subject to use in your underwater photo compositions. Also lucked out with some nice lighting conditions from the sunbeams filtering through the surface above.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    I don't usually see the bird's-eye view of a school of sweetlips so I decided to give it a try with this photo.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    One huge difference between Tubbataha and most other reefs you'll find around Southeast Asia is the healthy numbers of large fish you'll find. It's always a bad sign when you're diving somewhere and all you see are the tiny ones...

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    'You're not the only one, starin' at the sun...'

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    Clown fish and their anemones can make a nice foreground element for an underwater photo composition.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    You can expect to find schools of jacks like this one when you're diving around Tubbataha.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    Something about the way this squirrelfish was isolated against this background of corals caught my eye.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    I often like to include some branching corals and damselfish as a foreground element in a shot like this. I think the photos of divers swimming out in the open water can be pretty boring.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    You won't see the colors of a fan coral like this one until you light it up with a flashlight or underwater strobe.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    One of the Tubbataha Park Rangers spotted this scorpionfish while I was setting up to shoot a photo of them while they drilled the holes for the new anchor buoys. Definitely glad I didn't bump into that thing, I've heard the stings from those spines can be REALLY painful.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    Lino from the DENR swims in the background with this small school of sweetlips.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    Wish we'd gotten a bit closer to this manta but it was too far out in the blue water to catch up with.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    I used a small underwater strobe to light up this lively section of Tubbataha's reef while these sweetlips swam past.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    Can you count how many fish are in this photo?

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    For some reason you don't see so many 'Nemo' style clown fish around Tubbataha, have been meaning to ask someone why that is... Any thoughts? Maybe it's because the atolls are so far from the coast that it would have been difficult for them to colonize?

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    Triggerfish (like this one in the middle third of the frame) are great for photos but definitely keep away from them when they're spawning--I've seen other divers get attacked by triggerfish and it doesn't look at all fun!

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    Everywhere you look in Tubbataha there's something amazing to take a photo of.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    Here's Angelique beside a nice colony of fan coral.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    This huge tuna swam above me, I glimpsed it at the last second to get this photo. Wish I could have gotten a closer shot but it was swimming way too fast to catch up with.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    Here's a shot of Angelique beside one of Tubbataha's deep blue dropoffs with a nice coral garden and damselfish in the foreground.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    Lots of amazing undersea coral formations around Tubbataha. We found this one at about 30 meters (90 feet) below the surface.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    Used the underwater strobe to light up the damselfish and branching corals in this photo.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    It looks almost like the sweetlips is eating the damselfish like a gummy swedish fish (mmmm, swedish fish!), but it's one of those perspective illusions like everybody does at the Taj Mahal.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    Keep all fingers, toes, and other extremities away from those nasty, bitey, pointy, teeth!

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    Another angle on one of Tubbatah's fan corals.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    The underwater topography of Tubbataha is really dramatic with huge undersea cliffs and coral outcroppings.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    Nice section of branching corals and tons of damselfish in Tubbataha.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    Quick self-portrait at about ten meters below the surface at Tubbataha.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    A blizzard of damselfish with a few sweelips included for good measure.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    This part of Tubbatha's reef was absolutely teeming with soft corals, damsel fish, and sweetlips.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    Fan corals can look like fire when lit with an underwater strobe and highlighted against a background of deep blue water.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    I've never seen anything like this in any aquarium.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    Something about the way this fish caught the light from the flash made it look pasted in.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    Hello, sweetips.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    A sweetlips with a small red grouper hanging out in its shade.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    The edges of Tubbatha's reef walls are usually alive with confetti schools of damselfish living in branching coral colonies.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    Sweetlips-eye view of the reef at Tubbataha.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    Beautiful fan coral clinging to the precipitous dropoff at the Tubbataha reef's edge.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    Damselfish swimming around a colony of hard coral species.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    This particular part of the reef was really busy with activity from the fish and other reef species.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    Again I have to say that every time I go diving in a place like Tubbataha it makes me sad to think how everywhere probably used to look like this and never will again.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    Yes, that last caption was probably a bit heavy, but I think it's unfortunately true.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    The deeper you go in Tubbataha, the steeper it gets!

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    Another sweet lips portrait from the reefs of Tubbataha.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    Some species of sweet lips may be more colorful, but this variety undoubtedly has the signature 'sweet' lips of the species.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    Here's another angle on this section of reef.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    So many different varieties of clown fish in the Philippines, each one seems to prefer only a particular species of anemone to call home.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    Giant clams (rare in other parts of the Philippines) can usually be found in Tubbataha.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    A couple of pink anemone fish watched us swimming by.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    This species of sweetlips seems to be more common in the Philippines.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    Afternoon dive at a nice sunny reef in Tubbataha with a huge school of damsel fish.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    Another angle on a beautiful fan coral with a huge school of damsel fish.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    Sloping away into the blue water.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    The brilliant colors of the damsel fish are beautifully highlighted in the shallower sections of the reef in Tubbataha where the afternoon sun lights them up.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    Another view of an underwater paradise in Tubbataha.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    The propeller shaft of a long sunken shipwreck on one of Tubbataha's reefs.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    Schools of triggerfish silhoetted against the afternoon sun.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    I don't think there's many areas of Tubbataha that aren't completely covered with coral.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    Here's another underwater view of Tubbataha's best.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    The slopes of the atoll islands become increasingly steep until they just drop away into the deep blue water like a cliff.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    On the way to Davy Jones' locker.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    A fan coral clings to Tubbataha's undersea cliff face at about 30 meters.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    Lino pauses for a cameo photo on this dive.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    Angelique and Lino in an underwater group photo.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    These moorish idols seemed to prefer hanging out just under the edge of this branching coral.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    Looking towards the surface at about twenty meters beneath the surface of Tubbataha's waves.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    These soft coral species swayed in the undersea currents like trees in a breeze.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    Beautiful branching corals like this are extremely delicate and very easily damaged.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    We definitely didn't have any boring dives in Tubbataha.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    The deeper you go, the bluer the blue.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    Not much to catch you if you started sinking here--it's pretty much freefall all the way to the bottom.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    Some lobsters could be seen peering out of the cracks and crevices of Tubbataha's deep sea wall.

  • Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish

    Tubbataha's Coral Reefs: Underwater Paradise for Tropical Fish
    Note to the U.S. Navy (or any Navy): Please don't ram your boats into a place as beautiful as Tubbataha.


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