Have you ever had a discussion (maybe a bit heated) about whether a body of water is considered a pond or a lake? Well, I have and I need to find out just what the differences are. Sure, there are more pressing things to fret about in our world, but I want an answer.

You see, for the past couple of decades, I have camped at a few local campgrounds, all containing bodies of water. One claimed that their body of water was a lake. I disagreed, stating it was just a pond because of its size, compared to other campgrounds.

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Where I now camp, the campground has the word 'lake' in its title, but does that really give it the distinction of being a lake or just a large pond? Well, it's time to find out just what is the difference between a lake and a pond.

What is a Pond Technically?

My search for the answer landed on the website How Stuff Works. The site describes a pond as small (obviously), enclosed, shallower, with mostly standing water, and shallow enough for sunlight to reach the bottom. Aside from the waterfall, that's what that small body of water in my backyard is.

And because sunlight penetrates the entire body of water, plants can grow on both the bottom as well as on top. Also How Stuff Works notes that ponds maintain a more uniform temperature with little to no waves, depending on size.

How is a Lake Different Than a Pond?

A lake is (obviously) deeper, and open where sunlight doesn't reach the bottom, the temperature of the water varies and there's more wave activity.

The website A-Z Animals describes the difference in three categories - depth, outlet, and size. A lake depth is between 20 to 40,000 feet with an open outlet. A pond depth is between 4 to 20 feet, with a closed outlet.

A-Z Animals also mentions the definition from NOAA as a pond being less than half an acre, and less than 20 feet deep. A lake is bigger than one acre. Does any of this make sense differentiating a lake from a pond or will we continue to debate the topic? I don't think there is a definitive answer, so the debate will go on.

[via How Stuff Works, A-Z Animals]

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