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Geographic Scope

The Sulu-Celebes Sea* is a Large Marine Ecosystem (LME) in the tropical seas of Asia, containing a geographically distinct assemblage of natural communities that share a large number of common species, dynamics, and conditions. The seas are a semi-enclosed LME with an area of 900,000 km2, and is composed of two marine basins – the Sulu Sea and the Sulawesi Sea. The two marine basins are separated by the Tawi-Tawi Ridge but are inter-connected by the movement of marine waters. The Pacific Ocean flows into Sulu Sea in northern Mindanao and between Sangihe-Talaud Archipelago, North Sulawesi. Surface waters from one basin overflow to the other every two weeks and through-flows through the Tawi-Tawi-Sulu Archipelago occur during monsoons. An internal wave moves back and forth from the Tubbataha Ridge towards the east coast of Palawan Island.

*The Sulu-Celebes Sea LME is synonymous to the Sulu-Sulawesi Sea Marine Ecoregion (SSME). Sulu Sea is the body of water in the territory of the Philippines and Sulawesi (or Celebes) Sea is the body of water bounded by Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

Conservation International 2010

Map source: Conservation International 2010.

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