Many reasons can drive the choice of the present tense and, personally, I often use it. Note that you can switch from past tense to present, and back: you are not tied to one or the other, so the reasons to use the present tense may be local.
The first reason that came to my mind is that present tense is more quickly immersive. When you start your story using past tense, the reader should expect some background information. Using the present, you can place the reader directly in the action, delaying explanations for later. So you can raise the suspense very effectively, for example.
A second reason is not to give any clue about the end. Suppose you choose the first person point of view, which is very immersive. If you choose to use past tense, then the reader will expect the character to survive at the end of the story, which is not the case with present tense.
I did not know if I had a chance to reach the surface and take another breath.
Will I reach the surface and take another breath?
A third reason is to make the temporal composition of the story clearer. Many events in the past may be considered to explain the situation of the story. You may have one past event, then another one taking place before, and then another taking place between them, and so on. It may be very complicated and hard to manage. Grammar has some resources to help, placing one temporal line to the present time will give a clear reference point for the other lines.
A fourth reason: when the reader shares the narrator emotions, the feelings will not be the same. If the events take place in the past, the reader will have the feeling of a remembrance of an emotion, not the emotion itself.
I was afraid. The giant squid was swimming quickly after me, and near to caught me.
I'm scared. The giant squid is swimming fast. It will catch me!
All my examples deal with suspense and fear, cases where the need to use present tense is obvious. But it is also true for any other emotions or feelings.
I think there may be other reasons... I'm unable to think about more at the present time.