Difference Between Sea and River (with Table)

71% of the earth’s surface is water-covered. Water is present in different forms of water bodies such as the ocean, sea, rivers, lakes, icebergs, etc. all over the world. All these water bodies are highly valuable as they affect the survival of flora and fauna.

They avail of a large number of species and a lot of human activities such as agriculture, transport, defense, hydropower, etc. Water bodies are often confused as people certain times do not know the features under which one can classify. Two such water bodies are sea and river.

Sea vs River

The main difference between sea and river is that the sea is a saltwater body whereas rivers are freshwater bodies. Seas are rich in minerals as they contain a lot of different minerals in it such as sodium chloride, salts of magnesium, calcium, and potassium along with other elements. There are 7 major seas in the world and rivers can be further classified under 165 major rivers and 15 largest ones.

Seas are large water bodies that are smaller than oceans covering the land around it completely or partially. Seas play an important role in the earth cycles namely- water cycle, carbon cycle, and nitrogen cycle. Seas avail a large variety of flora and fauna in it according to the depth of the sea.

Rivers are natural free-flowing water body they usually stream to join an ocean, sea, lake, or another river. Major cities are often created on the banks of the river as they make a lot of services easier for the settlement around.

Comparison Table Between Sea and River

Parameter of Comparison




Large water body

Long flowing water body


Saltwater body

Freshwater body


They do not flood the nearby area

They tend to flood the nearby area


There are 7 seas

There are  165 major rivers


Seas took billions of years to form

Few may take only several years to form

Flow of water

The water move in a comparatively slow speed

The water tends to move in a higher speed


What is Sea?

Sea is a large water body which is smaller than an ocean, it is partly or wholly an extension of an ocean covering the land around itself. It is a saltwater body. The sea plays an essential part in regulating and moderating the earth’s climate. It plays a crucial part in the earth’s water cycle, carbon cycle, and nitrogen cycle. Sea was the major means of traveling to a foreign or unknown land for travelers in ancient times. The scientific study of the sea is known as oceanography.

Sea is rich in minerals. A few of the minerals found are sodium chloride, salts of magnesium, calcium, and potassium along with other elements. Deep-sea current is also known as global conveyor belt which are formed by the difference in salinity and temperature, and surface currents are occurred by the friction of waves that occur due to wind and tide (caused by the earth’s rotation and the gravitational force of the moon, and the sun to certain extent).

 A wide variety of flora and fauna such as bacteria, parasites, algae, plants, fungi, and different types of fish provide a wide range of marine habitats and ecosystems. Seas play an important role in human trade, travel, mineral extraction, and power generation. There are 7 major seas in the world namely-the Mediterranean sea, the Caspian sea, the Adriatic sea, the red sea, the black sea, the Russian gulf, and the Indian ocean.