Have you ever been stranded on a deserted tropical island? Probably not! But if you ever are, we hope it has a lagoon!

If you’ve ever seen a movie or television show that takes place in a tropical paradise, you may have seen people swimming in a shallow pool of water that’s separated from the larger ocean by coral reefs or small barrier islands. That’s a lagoon!

Of course, lagoons aren’t limited to just tropical areas. They’re common features along coastlines all over the world. Anywhere there’s a shallow body of water separated from a larger body of water by a reef or an island, you’ve got yourself a lagoon. In fact, the word “lagoon” comes from the Italian laguna, which describes the waters around Venice.

Although some people include bodies of fresh water in the definition of lagoon, others only apply the term “lagoon” to bodies of salt water. If a body of water that might otherwise be a lagoon receives a regular inflow of fresh water, it most likely will be called an estuary.

Just because a body of water fits the definition of lagoon doesn’t mean it’ll have “lagoon” in its name. Pamlico Sound in North Carolina, Great South Bay in New York, Banana River in Florida and Lake Illawarra in New South Wales are all technically lagoons despite their names.

Lagoons tend to form along coastlines with a gentle slope. This makes most lagoons shallow and sensitive to changes in sea level. If the sea level drops, the lagoon may dry up. If the sea level rises, the protective reefs or islands may end up underwater.

Some of the most beautiful lagoons occur in tropical areas near coral reefs. When these lagoons happen to be relatively deep and are surrounded by ring-shaped coral reefs, scientists call them atolls.

75 Join the Discussion

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  1. I loved today’s wonder of the day, and the picture helped me visualize it a lot better but I never knew that lagoons aren’t connected to oceans and that you can find the most beautiful ones around tropical areas with coral reefs.

    • WOW, that’s STELLAR news, Curiosity! You’ve learned so very much from today’s Wonder that we are sending you a virtual high five! We hope you’re able to visit a beautiful lagoon in the future! Have a marvelous Monday! :)

    • Hey there Lauren105! Thanks for letting us know how much you enjoy visits to Wonderopolis! In addition to our Wonders, we LOVE when our friends suggest other Wonders that they have created themselves! We are so glad you suggested hippos– we will start thinking about a SUPER Wonder to create! Have a most-spectacular day, Wonder Friend! :)

  2. Today’s WONDER was awesome! I have heard about lagoons but I have never known that much about them. I love WONDERing with you guys!

    I think tomorrow’s WONDER will be about a balloon, airplane, or a bird.

    • HOORAY, Wondergirl101 is back and WONDERing with us today! :)

      It’s amazing that you’ve learned so much from today’s Wonder– aren’t lagoons beautiful?! We hope we can make a splash and visit a lagoon soon… we Wonder if you have ever seen one, Wondergirl101?

      Your guesses are sky-high for tomorrow’s Wonder– we can’t wait to take flight with you! :)

  3. We got to look at pictures of lagoons. It would be really fun to swim in a lagoon!

    We think tomorrow’s wonder will be about space, planes, or astronauts.

    • YAY, our Wonder Friends from Ms. Bayko’s Class are spending their marvelous Monday morning with us! We hope you can visit a lagoon in the future– it looks like a great place to make a splash!

      Thanks for sharing your out of this world guesses for tomorrow’s Wonder! We can’t wait to Wonder with you again! :)

    • Great question, Jill! We can’t take credit for the Wonder video today, but a group by the name of Matarai filmed this video in Tahiti– from a helicopter! We think the scenery is truly breathtaking! It makes us want to jump right in! :)

  4. Dear Wonderopolis,

    We thought today’s wonder was spectacular! We think tomorrow’s wonder might be about hot air balloons, rockets, or maybe blimps.

    Thank you for the wonders,
    Mrs. Tillman’s 4th graders.

    • What a great word to describe today’s Wonder– spectacular! Thanks so much for using your imaginations with us, Wonder Friends in Mrs. Tillman’s 4th grade class! Tomorrow’s Wonder will be up, up and away and we can’t wait to find out what it will be! See you then! :)

  5. Today’s wonder made Kaitlyn think about Sponge Bob because there is a lagoon. Macey thought it was cool to learn about different types of water. This Wonder made Mrs. Ski think about The Little Mermaid and the song where the animals sing about floating in a blue lagoon.

    We think tomorrow’s wonder will be about flying, superman, Up!, airplanes, the first moon launch, birds, rockets, Mary Poppins, space, or jet packs.

    • Our Wonder Friends in Mrs. Ski’s AM Class are doing a great job of connecting their ideas to today’s Wonder! Nice work– you have described even more images of lagoons! Tomorrow’s up-in-the-air Wonder is going to be lots of fun, just like you! :)

  6. I though today’s wonder was cool! I actually have been swimming in a lagoon before because I live on a tropical island! I didn’t know much about lagoons until now!

    I think tomorrow’s wonder will be about planes, parachutes, or kites!

    Have a Marvelous Monday. :)

    • WOW you’re a lucky duck, Sarah! We bet it was a blast to swim in a lovely lagoon like the ones we have been WONDERing about today! Thanks for sharing your comment and your super guesses with us, Wonder Friend! We hope you’re having a magical Monday! :-)

  7. We learned that a lagoon can be in little areas separated from the big ocean. We thought the video was very cool. Leah has heard that a coral reef has fish poo in it. She is not sure she wants to swim in a lagoon.

    • Nice work, Tigers in 2nd Grade! You have certainly learned something new about the deep blue today! We aren’t sure that we’d want to swim after fish use their form of the bathroom, but we know it’s just a part of life! :)

    • HOORAY, we’re so excited that you’ve shared your enthusiasm for today’s Wonder, Moira! Thanks for WONDERing with us today! :)

  8. Interesting fact! Did you know that there are lagoons in Illinois? And it’s called the Skokie Lagoon!! I didn’t know what a lagoon was before I came to this website! Thanks for sharing!

    • WOW, how cool that you found some lagoons not too far from you, Flossmoor Kids! We bet you can have an adventure of your own when the weather warms up– field trip to the lagoon! We’re glad you all learned something new today! Nice work, Wonder Friends– we’ll see you soon! :)

  9. Dear Wonderopolis,

    We think it would be fun to visit a lagoon. We think tomorrow might be about the world’s tallest man or tallest dog. Some of us were also thinking it might be about space or super heros.

    Thank you for the wonders,
    Mrs. Witkowski’s 4th graders

    • We agree, Wonder Friends in Mrs. Witkowski’s 4th grade class, visiting a lagoon like the one in the Wonder video would be AWESOME! We can’t wait to Wonder up-up-and-away with you tomorrow! See you then! :)

    • Super guess, Wonder Friend Mystery! We will definitely be looking UP for tomorrow’s Wonder! Thanks for sharing your guess! :)

  10. Today’s wonder was neat. Jacob liked the picture a lot because it looked like water was rolling off the tree branches.
    Kaden would like to go swimming in a lagoon. JD connected this to a water feature at Kalahari that is called a lagoon. The water slide drops you into a lagoon type habitat.

    We think tomorrow’s wonder will be about airplanes, rocket ships, superheroes, hot air balloons, birds, or helicopters.

    • We are so happy that our Wonder Friends from Mrs. Ski’s PM Class dove into today’s Wonder! We think it would be very cool to go on a field trip to a lagoon, but we can use our imaginations to plan a field trip in our minds! Thanks for sharing all the cool connections you made to our Wonder! Way to go!

      We’ll see you tomorrow as we go up, up, away with Wonders! :)

    • We’re glad you think lagoons are cool, Andre’yanna! We have a lot of Wonder Friends who agree with you, too! Thanks for sharing your comment! :)

    • How cool, Jakob B! That must have been a cool adventure! We hope you tested the waters and swam in the lagoon, or the laguna! :)

    • Great question, Andre’yanna! We Wonder if you can take a look at the Wonder today to answer that question! Here’s an excerpt from the Wonder:

      Anywhere there’s a shallow body of water separated from a larger body of water by a reef or an island, you’ve got yourself a lagoon. In fact, the word “lagoon” comes from the Italian laguna, which describes the waters around Venice.

      Here’s another Wonder that might be right up your alley: Wonder #321– What’s So Great About the Great Lakes? http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/whats-so-great-about-the-great-lakes/ :)

    • We bet that would be an AWESOME trip, Dylan! Thanks for sharing your great idea for a vacation– we hope you get there in the future! :)

  11. I love it. Every time I read something about stuff like lagoons, it’s from Italy or from an Italian origin. I love it! Italians and Italy, are awesome! I am Italian! Whoop! :)

    • We’re so glad you learned something new with us, Daniel C! Way to go! We hope you’ll come back to visit us for more WONDERing tomorrow! :)

    • We’re so excited that today’s Wonder featured something you love, Gymnastic Godd– lagoons!! We Wonder if you have ever visited a place with its very own lagoon? We bet it would be a very cool adventure! :)

    • How cool that you visited the Bahamas, Libby! We bet you saw tons of lagoons and other beautiful displays of nature while you were there! Thanks for sharing your Nassau adventure with us! :)

    • We think a lagoon would look great in a public park, Carlos A! We know it wouldn’t be a true lagoon unless it is attached to an ocean, but it would be a very cool place to take a swim! We like your creativity! :)

  12. That’s so cool I never even thought about lagoons before. I would sure love to live on a lagoon! I really like today’s wonder thanks for letting me learn about it!
    Sincerely Danielle :)

    • Hey there Danielle! Thanks for sharing your comment with us– we are so happy to hear that you have learned something new about lagoons today! :)

    • HOORAY, we’re excited that our lagoon Wonder really made a splash, Berkleigh! Thanks for sharing your comment, Wonder Friend! :)

  13. How big is the biggest lagoon?
    And some of this music reminds me about a game called zoo tycoon 2 also loved today’s WONDER! :)

    • We Wonder if you can do some research of your own to find out how big a lagoon can be, Emily! We are so glad that our deep blue Wonder made you smile– we hope to see you soon! :)

  14. I know that lagoons can be really really realy deep. So can you type back because everybody types back to me all the time

  15. Lagoons are sooooooooo lovely aren’t they! I learned a lot today about lagoons and I can’t wait to see the next wonder of the day. :) Well hope the next wonder of the day is about.

    I have a quick question about lagoons and the question is how big can the waves be in lagoons?

    • Great Wonder, Karter! We like that you’re making waves by using your imagination today! Because most lagoons are shallow, making waves isn’t too difficult! We haven’t measured those waves ourselves, but perhaps you can do some WONDERing of your own by researching waves online or at the library!

      Wonder #377 features a different kind of wave… we bet you’ll enjoy it: Do YOu Need Water to Make Waves? http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/do-you-need-water-to-make-waves/ :)

    • You’re so welcome, Wonder Friend Alyssia! We’re thrilled that you learned something new with us today and we hope to Wonder with you again soon! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • What is a lagoon?
  • Are lagoons always called lagoons?
  • What is an atoll?

Wonder Gallery

LagoonVimeo Video

Try It Out

Have you ever been to a lagoon? If not, you can take a virtual visit to one through a series of videos offered online by San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy. Take some time to watch the fantastic videos of this beautiful area!

If you’ve ever read books or seen movies about the creature from the black lagoon, you may be inspired to make some lagoon creatures of your own. Jump online to learn how to make your very own homemade Creepy Lagoon Creatures!

When you’re finished, be sure to share a picture of your lagoon creature on Facebook. We can’t wait to see what you make!

Still Wondering

Check out National Geographic Education’s Healthy Beaches activity to describe your experiences with beaches, compare and contrast photographs of beaches, and brainstorm how humans living near the ocean affect ocean plants and animals.

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