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Difference between lake and lagoon

Lakes, lagoons, rivers, ponds, seas or oceans. It is not surprising that we have so many names to speak of the accumulations of water in its different forms if we take into account that the surface of our planet is covered by water in about 70% of the total.

When observing the planet, many questions can arise, for example, what differentiates a lagoon and a lake. Knowing our environment is essential to be able to enjoy it, learn to take care of it and give it the value it deserves. That is why in the following EcologiaVerde article we will explain what the difference is between a lake and a lagoon , as well as we will explain the characteristics of these water accumulations.

  1. What is a lake
  2. What is a lagoon
  3. Differences between lake and lagoon

What is a lake

Lakes are bodies of water, mostly sweet, that can be large and are separated from the sea. The water in the lakes can come from rivers and streams, as well as groundwater or rain. But not only do they have a water inlet, they also have outlets in the form of rivers or outlets to the sea , so the water is never stagnant but there is a current although many times it is not perceptible.

At this point it should be noted that those very large lakes that do not have access to the sea can also be known as closed sea, a classic example is that of the Caspian Sea, which is actually a lake.

What is a lagoon

The lagoons are natural deposits of water separated from the sea, of little depth and whose waters are usually salty or brackish. As a result of their shallow depth and their sedimentation, the lagoons are usually places where a lot of vegetation grows and they host a great fauna. Unlike lakes, where only plants grow on the banks, the lagoon can contain plants with roots throughout.

Now that we know the definitions of lake and lagoon it is likely that we still have doubts about their differences. We will explain them to you below so that you can understand it perfectly.

Differences between lake and lagoon

In general terms, the differences between lake and lagoon are 5:

  • The depth
  • If the water is stagnant
  • If they are fresh or salt water
  • The water’s temperature
  • Dewatering

Next, we will explain in detail the differences between lake and lagoon for each of these aspects.


Although many people believe that a key element is size, the reality is that the most important thing to establish if it is a lake or a lagoon is the depth. The shallow depth of the lagoons is an essential difference with the lake. Clear limits cannot be established, as these depend on the area and the country. For example, in Spain the limit is set at 15 meters while in the US the depth limit is 3 meters. Be that as it may, a lagoon is always shallow, unlike a lake, which is always deeper. That said, it is true that in general the lake is bigger than the lagoon.

Stagnant water

The lagoon only has water inlet and has no outlet, while the lake has entrances and exits. Obviously, in lakes, during most of the time you enter more water than it leaves – otherwise they would disappear – that is why the sensation of stagnant water is created when in reality it is not. Unlike these, the lagoons are stagnant bodies of water .

Fresh or salt water

Go ahead, this is not a 100% reliable element, since we find waters of a different nature both in lakes and lagoons, but it can serve as a guiding factor when establishing the differences between lake and lagoon. That said, in general, the lagoons are of salty water, either because they are located next to the sea separated by an arm of land, or because their sedimentation gives them some salts that this nature gives them. On the other hand, the lakes are usually freshwater .

Water temperature

Related to the point of depth. As the lagoons are very shallow, the sun’s rays heat their waters evenly, so that all the water has the same temperature. The difference between the lagoon and the lake is that the latter, being deeper, creates different layers of temperature depending on the depth of the waters. In general, the surface waters are warmer, while the lower ones are colder.


As we have already explained, one of the differences between a lake and a lagoon is that the latter do not have a water outlet. This means that, when due to a drought or whatever, the lagoon cannot feed on water, it will eventually disappear. But, what are the differences between the dewatering of the lagoon and the lake? While the lagoons evaporate or seep , since there is no water flow, the lakes disappear when more water flows into rivers and streams than enters.

If you want to read more articles similar to Difference between lake and lagoon , we recommend that you enter our Ecosystems category .

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Hello, I am a blogger specialized in environmental, health and scientific dissemination issues in general. The best way to define myself as a blogger is by reading my texts, so I encourage you to do so. Above all, if you are interested in staying up to date and reflecting on these issues, both on a practical and informative level.

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