Sulu-Sulawesi Seas | WWF

Sulu-Sulawesi Seas

About the Area

Abundant coral reefs, mangroves, and seagrass beds of the Lesser Sundas support one of the richest arrays of coral reef animals and plants in the world. Whilst the Caribbean has about 50 species and the Western Indian Ocean around 200, this area boasts an astonishing 450 species of scleractinian corals.
The Sulu Sea's Tubbataha Reef, with corals covering more than 81,000 acres (32,400 hectares), is the heart of coral diversity for the region.

Local Species

Among the fishes that characterise this ecoregion are giant bumphead parrot-fish (Bolbometapon muricatus), Napoleon wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus), jacks (Carangidae spp.), needlefish (Belonidae spp.), barracudas (Sphyraena spp.), and various species of sharks (Selachimorpha spp.).

The area supports exensive marine turtle populations like the green (Chelonia mydas), hawksbill (Erethmochelys imbricata), Olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea), leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), and loggerhead (Caretta caretta). Also found here are water monitors (Varanus salvator), saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus), dugong (Dugong dugon), Chinese crested tern (Thalasseus bernsteini), and manta rays (Manta birostris).

Eight cetaceans are known from these 2 seas - spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris), spotted dolphin (Stenella atterruata), bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), Risso's dolphin (Grampus griscus), Fraser's dolphin (Lagenodelphis hosei), short-finned pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus), dwarf sperm whale (Kogia simus), and Cuvier's beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris).

Coastal erosion, sedimentation, nutrient runoff from land, coral mining and collection, over-exploitation of sea turtles, rock mining, destructive fishing practices such as dynamite fishing and cyanide fishing, and collection of fish for the aquarium trade comprise primary threats to marine environments throughout this ecoregion.


Habitat type:
Tropical Coral

Geographic Location:
Central Indo Pacific

Conservation Status:

Quiz Time!

Is the Dugong headed towards extinction?

Listed as vulnerable to extinction at a global scale, even with the most favourable conditions, the dugong population is unlikely to increase by more than about 5% per year, making the dugong vulnerable to over-exploitation. Even a slight reduction in adult survival as a result of habitat loss, disease, hunting or incidental drowning in nets, can cause a chronic decline.

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