Apo Reef: a haven for divers

Off the coast of Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro is the world famous Apo Reef. It is about three to four hours by banca from Sablayan.

On reaching Apo Island, visitors will be welcomed by the beauty of blue water, powdery white sand and colorful coral reefs.

The Apo Reef Natural Park consists of the three islands. Apo Reef, the largest among the three islands, is the second largest contiguous coral reef in the world.

Apo Reef has a shallow lagoon with a depth of two meters to 10 meters surrounded by mangrove forest which serves as source of food, nursery and spawning ground of several coastal and marine species of fauna and sanctuary of birds. Its diverse corals are approximately 34 square kilometers of reef where different species of fish, marine mammals and invertebrates thrive.

It is also the largest atoll like reef in the Philippines, is a submerged platform that is a submerged of a 34 sqkm sub triangular northern and southern atoll like reefs separated by a 30-m deep channel that is open to the west The channel runs east to west from 1.8 m to 30 m deep with a fine white sand bottom numerous mounds and patches of branching corals under the deep blue water.

The main geographical features of Apo Reef are submerged. There are three islands that mark it on the surface: the Apo Island, Apo Menor (Binangaan and Cayos del Bajo Tinangkapang).

The largest is the 22-hectare Apo Island which harbors mangroves and beach vegetations, while Binangaan is a rocky Iimestone island with relatively few vegetation and Cayos del Bajo (200-300 sq.m.) is a coralline rock formation with no vegetation. Ogie Salvador, PIA

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