Lagoon vs. estuary
Lagoons are shallow, often elongated bodies of water separated from a larger body of water by a shallow or exposed shoal, coral reef, or similar feature. Some authorities include fresh water bodies in the definition of "lagoon", while others explicitly restrict "lagoon" to bodies of water with some degree of salinity. The distinction between "lagoon" and "estuary" also varies between authorities. Richard A. Davis Jr. restricts "lagoon" to bodies of water with little or no fresh water inflow, and little or no tidal flow, and calls any bay that receives a regular flow of fresh water an "estuary". Davis does state that the terms "lagoon" and "estuary" are "often loosely applied, even in scientific literature." Timothy M. Kusky characterizes lagoons as normally being elongated parallel to the coast, while estuaries are usually drowned river valleys, elongated perpendicular to the coast.
When used within the context of a distinctive portion of coral reef ecosystems, the term "lagoon" is synonymous with the term "back reef" or "backreef", which is more commonly used by coral reef scientists to refer to the same area. Coastal lagoons are classified as inland bodies of water.
Many lagoons do not include "lagoon" in their common names. Albemarle and Pamlico sounds in North Carolina, Great South Bay between Long Island and the barrier beaches of Fire Island in New York, Isle of Wight Bay, which separates Ocean City, Maryland from the rest of Worcester County, Maryland, Banana River in Florida, Lake Illawarra in New South Wales, Montrose Basin in Scotland, and Broad Water in Wales have all been classified as lagoons, despite their names. In England, The Fleet at Chesil Beach has also been described as a lagoon.
Latin American laguna
In Latin America, the term laguna in Spanish, which lagoon translates to, may be used for a small fresh water lake in a similar way a creek is considered a small river. However, sometimes it is popularly used to describe a full-sized lake, such as Laguna Catemaco in Mexico, which is actually the third largest lake by area in the country. The brackish water lagoon may be thus explicitly identified as a "coastal lagoon" (laguna costera). In Portuguese the same usage is found: lagoa may be a body of shallow sea water, or a small freshwater lake not linked to the sea.