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Types of Water Bodies

Geography | 7-14 yrs | Reading Pod, Interactive

We all know how important water is to us. 3/4 of the earth’s surface is covered with water. This water is distributed throughout the planet in various forms and shapes, called the various water bodies. These water bodies differ in size, right from huge ones like oceans and seas to the small ones like ponds. Thus the various water bodies we see on the earth’s surface are in the form of oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, ponds, waterfalls etc.

Different Bodies of Water and their Characteristics

Let us travel the earth and learn about these various water bodies found only on our beautiful planet.


  • The oceans are vast and deep bodies of water. Usually, it is these oceans that separate continents from one another. The oceans are bodies of salt water.
  • We have five oceans in our world. They are the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, Arctic Ocean, the Southern Ocean or Antarctic Ocean.
  • The largest and deepest ocean in the world is the Pacific ocean, covering one-third of the earth’s surface.
  • This is followed by the Atlantic ocean and the Indian ocean in order of size.
  • Oceans are home to a variety of plants and seaweed and thousands of sea creatures like the sea urchins, whales, sharks, octopus, a variety of fish, snakes, squids etc.
  • In fact, oceans also contain millions of tiny dead animals called coral polyps which form the beautiful coral reefs, Australia being the largest coral reef in the world.
  • Oceans are useful to us in many ways as they are a rich source of minerals, they provide energy and valuable fuels like petroleum.
  • They work as an important channel of transportation.


  • Seas are also big water bodies but are definitely smaller than oceans. They are partly enclosed by a land mass and open into the ocean.
  • We see many seas eventually connecting to the oceans. For example we have the Mediterranean Sea which is attached or joins the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Some of the seas are the Red Sea, the Black Sea, the Arabian Sea, Caribbean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.
  • The Red and the Black Sea, have got their names because the Red Sea has millions of red tiny plants growing at the bottom and the Black Sea because of the thick black mud that lies at its bottom.
  • Under the seas we find huge plains, high mountains and even deep valleys, interesting isn’t it, that these various landforms are also present under the sea.
  • The largest of the seas is the South China Sea which is supposed be holding hundreds of islands in its waters .
  • The sea, like the oceans is useful to us in many ways.It is a rich source of food providing us with various kinds of sea food.
  • It also works as a channel for transportation.
  • Like oceans, seas are a source of food, and are also usually used extensively as transport lanes for ships.


  • A lake is a water body surrounded by land on all sides. It is actually the opposite of an island, which is a piece of land surrounded by water on all sides.
  • Lakes can be salty or fresh water lakes. Salty lakes are due to a lot of evaporation taking place.
  • Some famous lakes are-Lake Superior, Caspian Sea, Lake Victoria, Lake Aral and the Dal Lake .
  • In fact the Caspian Sea is the world’s largest salt lake, it is so big that it is referred to as sea.
  • Lake Superior is the biggest fresh water lake.
  • The Dead Sea is a salt water lake.
  • It is said that nothing can survive in the Dead Sea because it is very salty.


  • Rivers are large streams that flow over the land. They are hence large flowing water bodies, they usually end up in an ocean or sea.
  • Rivers are fresh water bodies which generally originate in mountainous areas or elevated areas.
  • We have basically two kinds of rivers which are, the Snow-fed rivers and the second is the Rain-fed rivers.
  • Snow-fed rivers find their source in the snow capped mountains, where the snow melts, flowing down forming rivers, rain-fed rivers as the name suggests are formed in areas where it rains a lot giving rise to these rivers.
  • The place where a river starts its journey, is called the source and the place where it ends its journey , is called the mouth of a river.
  • Rivers again are very useful as we have seen in history,that most civilizations were formed near the banks of the rivers, like the Egyptian Civilization on the banks of the River Nile, the Indus Valley Civilization on the banks of the River Indus.
  • This is because the rivers deposit a lot of fertile soil called silt which is excellent for the growing of crops.


  • A gulf is a large area of an ocean or a sea that is partially enclosed by land.

For Example the Gulf of Mexico.


  • A bay is a body of water, which is again partially enclosed by land. It is a wide mouth opening of land, where the water is surrounded by land on three sides and is joined to the sea on the fourth side.

For example the Bay of Bengal


  • A lagoon is a lake separated from the open sea by sand or rocks.
  • Lake Chilika in Orissa, India is an example of a lagoon.


  • A strait is a narrow stretch of water which joins two larger water bodies.

For example: Palk Strait joining the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean.


  • Water falling from a height is usually called a waterfall. A waterfall is formed when a river flows over an edge of hard rocks and falls from a great height.
  • Waterfalls make beautiful tourist spots and are helpful in generating hydroelectric power.
  • The Angel falls in South America are the world’s highest waterfall.
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