Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the Puerto Princesa Underground River, a unique underground landmark and UNESCO World Heritage site. The underground river became one of the seven natural wonders of the world seven years ago, alongside the Amazon Rainforest. Today, Google is celebrating the day the river was afforded legal protection via the Ramsar Convention.
What is the Puerto Princesa Underground River?
The Puerto Princesa Underground River is a UNESCO World Heritage site based in the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park.
The park resides in the Philippine Palawan province, and the site itself north of the city of Puerto Princesa.
The Cabayugan River, which stretches through Palawan, runs underneath the island’s 1,000-metre high limestone mountain named Saint Paul.
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Underneath the mountain, the river flows for 5.1 miles and enters the sea on the other side.
This result of this path is the largest underground estuary in the world.
The Ramsar Convention was applied to the river on June 30, 2012, with today the seventh anniversary of the system’s protection.
Lawmakers said the river was: “unique in the biogeographic region because it connects a range of important ecosystems from the mountain-to-the-sea, including a limestone karst landscape with a complex cave system, mangrove forests, lowland evergreen tropical rainforests, and freshwater swamps.”
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The subterranean river is also home to diverse plant and animal life.
Contained within the caves are an estimated 800 plant species, and endangered animals unique to the river system.
Among animals inhabiting the system are the critically endangered cockatoo, hawksbill turtle and Nordmann’s Greenshank, all of which are protected species.
Giant spiders, snakes, crabs and fish also make their home within the caves.
In 2011, scientists unveiled fossils found within the underground river which included a 20 million-year-old sea cow.
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The caves were inducted into the New Seven Wonders of Nature in 2012, alongside the Amazon rainforest, Halong Bay, Iguazu Falls, Jeju Island, Komodo Island, and Table Mountain.
President Benigno Aquino III celebrated a victory for the Philippines when officials included the site among the other wonders.
A spokesman for the Malacañang said: “Confirmation that the Puerto Princesa Underground River is one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature is welcome news indeed.
“Throughout the competition, Filipinos from all walks of life have given time, energy, and resources to this campaign.”