The Philippine Sea is a marginal sea east and northeast of the Philippines occupying an estimated surface area of 5 million square kilometres (2 million square miles). It is located in the western part of the North Pacific Ocean. It is bordered by the Philippine archipelago (Luzon, Catanduanes, Samar, Leyte and Mindanao) on the southwest; Halmahera, Morotai, Palau, Yap, and Ulithi (of the Carolines) on the southeast; the Marianas, including Guam, Saipan, and Tinian, on the east; the Bonin and Iwo Jima on the northeast; the Japanese islands of Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyūshū on the north; the Ryukyu Islands on the northwest; and Taiwan in the west.
The sea has a complex and diverse undersea relief. The floor is formed into a structural basin by a series of geologic faults and fracture zones. Island arcs, which are actually extended ridges protruding above the ocean surface due to plate tectonic activity in the area, enclose the Philippine Sea to the north, east and south. The Philippine archipelago, Ryukyu Islands, and the Marianas are examples. Another prominent feature of the Philippine Sea is the presence of deep sea trenches, among them the Philippine Trench and the Mariana Trench, containing the deepest point on the planet.
The Philippine Sea has the Philippines and Taiwan to the west, Japan to the north, the Marianas to the east and Palau to the south. Adjacent seas include the Celebes Sea which is separated by Mindanao and smaller islands to the south, the South China Sea which is separated by Philippines, and the East China Sea which is separated by the Ryukyu Islands.
The Philippine Sea Plate forms the floor of the Philippine Sea. It subducts under the Philippine Mobile Belt which carries most of the Philippine archipelago and eastern Taiwan. Between the two plates is the Philippine Trench.
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The Philippine Sea hosts an exotic marine ecosystem. About five hundred species of hard and soft corals occur in the coastal waters and 20 per cent of the worldwide known shellfish species are found in Philippine waters. Sea turtles, sharks, moray eels, octopuses and sea snakes along with numerous species of fish such as tuna can commonly be observed. Additionally, the Philippine Sea serves as spawning ground for Japanese eel, tuna and different whale species.
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The first European to navigate the Philippine Sea was Ferdinand Magellan in 1521, who named it Mar Filipinas when he and his men were in the Mariana Islands prior to the exploration of the Philippines. Later it was discovered by other Spanish explorers from 1522 to 1565 and the site of the famous galleon trade route.
Between June 19 and 20, 1944, the Battle of the Philippine Sea (a very large and decisive World War II naval battle between Japan and the United States) took place in the eastern Philippine Sea, near the Mariana Islands. The aircraft carriers Taihō, Shōkaku, Junyō, Hiyō and Ryuho were bombed, torpedoed and sunk by American carrier-based planes and assaulted from other naval vessels. The aerial part of the Battle of the Philippine Sea was nicknamed the “Great Marianas Turkey Shoot” due to massive losses of Japanese aircraft and pilots. The battle facilitated the Allied conquests of Saipan, Guam and Tinian in the Marianas, Palau in the Southwest, and ultimately the Philippines.
Following an escalation of the Spratly Islands dispute in 2011, various Philippine government agencies started using the neologism "West Philippine Sea" to refer to the South China Sea. However, a PAGASA spokesperson said that the sea to the east of the Philippines will continue to be called the Philippine Sea.
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