Divers start assessment of Tubbataha Reef

A joint team of divers from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG)and the US Navy on Wednesday will start the ecological assessment of Tubbataha Reef where the minesweeper USS Guardian ran aground last January 17.

Unknown number of divers are heading for the reef with marine biologists and representatives of PCG and US Navy, the Coast Guard said.

PCG Palawan District head Commodore Enrico Evangelista said representatives of the Coast Guard Environmental Protection Command, Tubbataha Management Office (TMO), World Wildlife Fund, and US Navy will also proceed to the grounding site.

During the ecological assessment, the divers will place markers and take photos of the area. The team is to return to Puerto Princesa City in Palawan on Friday, the report said.

The USS Guardian ran aground off Tubbataha Reef last Jan. 17, with the TMO initially estimating some 4,000 square meters of the reef may have been damaged. Salvage crews finally completed the removal of the vessel from the reef last Black Saturday.