is bordered on the north by the Sulu Archipelago
and Sulu Sea
and Mindanao Island of the Philippines
, on the east by the Sangihe Islands
chain, on the south by Sulawesi
, and on the west by Kalimantan
. It extends 420 miles (675 km) north-south by 520 miles (837 km) east-west and has a total surface area of 110000 square miles (284,898.7 km²), to a maximum depth of 20,300 feet (6,200 m). The sea opens southwest through the Makassar Strait
into the Java Sea
The Celebes Sea is a piece of an ancient ocean basin that formed 42 million years ago in a locale removed from any landmass. By 20,000,000 years ago, earth crust movement had moved the basin close enough to the Indonesia
n and Philippine
es to receive emitted debris. By 10 million years ago the Celebes Sea was inundated with continental debris, including coal
, which was shed from a growing young mountain on Borneo and the basin had docked against Eurasia.
The border between the Celebes and the Sulu Sea is at the Sibutu-Basilan Ridge. Strong ocean current
s, deep sea trench
es and seamount
s, combined with active volcanic islands, result in complex oceanographic features.
ExtentThe International Hydrographic Organization
(IHO) defines the Celebes Sea as being one of the waters of the East Indian Archipelago
. The IHO defines its limits as follows:
On the North. The Southern limit of Sulu SeaSulu SeaThe Sulu Sea is a body of water in the southwestern area of the Philippines, separated from the South China Sea in the northwest by Palawan and from the Celebes Sea in the southeast by the Sulu Archipelago. Borneo is found to the southwest and Visayas to the northeast.Sulu Sea contains a number of...
[From Tagolo Point, down the West coast of MindanaoMindanaoMindanao is the second largest and easternmost island in the Philippines. It is also the name of one of the three island groups in the country, which consists of the island of Mindanao and smaller surrounding islands. The other two are Luzon and the Visayas. The island of Mindanao is called The...
to the Southwest extremity thence to the North coast of Basilan IslandBasilan (island)Basilan Island is an island of the Philippines, it belongs to Basilan Province with its capital Isabela City.Basilan is geographically located between latitude 6°15' and 7°00' longitude 121°15' and 122°30'....
(6°45′N 122°04′E), through this island to its Southern extremity, thence a line to Bitinan Island (6°04′N 121°27′E) off the Eastern end of Jolo IslandJoloJolo may refer to:* Jolo Island* Jolo, Sulu* Jolo, West Virginia* Jolo is also the nickname of Swedish author Jan Olof Olsson....
, through Jolo to a point in long. 121°04'E on its South coast, thence through TapulTapul, SuluTapul is a municipality in the province of Sulu, Philippines. According to the 2000 census, it has a population of 14,881 people in 2,117 households.-Barangays:Tapul is politically subdivided into 15 barangays.* Alu-Kabingaan* Banting* Hawan...
and LugusLugus, SuluLugus is a 5th class municipality in the province of Sulu, Philippines. According to the 2000 census, it has a population of 18,839 people in 2,907 households.-Barangays:Lugus is politically subdivided into 17 barangays.* Alu Bus-Bus* Alu-Duyong...
Islands and along the North coast of Tawitawi IslandTawi-TawiTawi-Tawi is an island province of the Philippines located in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao . The capital of Tawi-Tawi is Bongao. The province is the southernmost of the country sharing sea borders with the Malaysian State of Sabah and the Indonesian East Kalimantan province. To the...
to Bongao IslandBongao, Tawi-TawiBongao is a 3rd class municipality in the province of Tawi-Tawi, Philippines. According to the 2000 census, it has a population of 58,174 people in 10,146 households.-History:...
off its Western end (5°01′N 119°45′E), and from thence to Tanjong Labian, the Northeastern extreme of Borneo] and the Southwest coast of Mindanao.
On the East. A line from Tanjong Tinaka, the Southern point of Mindanao, to the North point of Sangi (3°45′N 125°26′E) thence through the Sangi Islands to Tanjong Poeisan, the Northeast extreme of Celebes
[SulawesiSulawesiSulawesi is one of the four larger Sunda Islands of Indonesia and is situated between Borneo and the Maluku Islands. In Indonesia, only Sumatra, Borneo, and Papua are larger in territory, and only Java and Sumatra have larger Indonesian populations.- Etymology :The Portuguese were the first to... ].
On the South. The North coast of Celebes between Tanjong Poeisan and Stroomenkaap (Cape Rivers) (1°20′N 120°52′E) and thence a line to Tanjong Mangkalihat in BorneoBorneoBorneo is the third largest island in the world and is located north of Java Island, Indonesia, at the geographic centre of Maritime Southeast Asia....
, the Northern limit of Makassar StraitMakassar StraitMakassar Strait is a strait between the islands of Borneo and Sulawesi in Indonesia. To the north it joins the Celebes Sea, while to the south it meets the Java Sea.The Mahakam River of Borneo empties into the strait....
[a line joining Tanjong Mangkalihat, Borneo (1°02′N 118°57′E) and Stroomen Kaap (Cape Rivers), Celebes (1°20′N 120°52′E)].
On the West. The East coast of Borneo between Tanjong Mangkalihat and Tanjong Labian, the Southern limit of the Sulu Sea.
Celebes Sea piratesThe Celebes Sea has somewhat attained an international notoriety for its pirates who prey not only on small time fishermen but also giant container ships. Nowadays, these pirates have high-tech weapons and equipment like radar
and GPS navigation devices and ride on high-speed motorboats. It is the second most pirated body of water after the Gulf of Aden
Marine lifeThe Celebes Sea is home to a wide variety of fish and aquatic creatures. The tropical setting and warm clear waters permit it to harbor about 580 of the world's 793 species of reef-building coral
s, which grow as some of the most bio-diverse coral reefs in the world, and an impressive array of marine life, including whale
s and dolphin
s, sea turtle
s, manta ray
s, eagle ray
and other reef and pelagic species. Tuna
and yellowfin tuna
are also abundant.
In addition to high abundance of fish caught in the Celebes sea, this sea also yields other aquatic products like sea tang.
Commercial significanceAn important sea route for regional trade. The sea is also popular for scuba diving
and luxury ocean cruising.
- BunakenBunakenBunaken is an island of 8 km², part of the Bunaken National Marine Park. Bunaken is located at the northern tip of the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia. It belongs administratively to the municipality of Manado...
- Davao GulfDavao GulfDavao Gulf is a gulf found in Mindanao in the Philippines. It has an area of 308,000 hectares. Davao Gulf cuts into the island of Mindanao from Celebes Sea. It is surrounded by all four provinces in the Davao Region. The largest island in the gulf is Samal Island. Davao City, on the gulf's west...
- Maitum, SaranganiMaitum, SaranganiMaitum is a 2nd class municipality in the province of Sarangani, Philippines. According to the latest census, it has a population of 37,054 people in 7,640 households....
- Minahassa Peninsula
- Moro GulfMoro GulfThe Moro Gulf is a sea in Mindanao in the Philippines. It is part of Celebes Sea and is surrounded by the Zamboanga Peninsula and the central part of Mindanao. Sibuguey Bay and Illana Bay are its major branches. Zamboanga City is the most important port city on its coast...
- Sangir Islands
- Sarangani BaySarangani BaySarangani Bay is a bay located on the southern tip of Mindanao in the Philippines. It opens up to the Celebes Sea on the Pacific Ocean. General Santos City, one of the Philippines most important cities and ports, is located on the bay, making the bay one of the busiest and often the sight of...
- Talaud IslandsTalaud IslandsTalaud Islands is a group of islands located north of Sulawesi island in Indonesia, northeast of the Sangihe Islands...
- Ocean Explorer (www.oceanexplorer.noaa.gov) - Public outreach site for explorations sponsored by the Office of Ocean Exploration.
- Exploring the Inner Space of the Celebes Sea 2007 - A rich collection of images, video and audio podcast.
- NOAA, Ocean Explorer YouTube Channel