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16 October 2014

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Coasts Mountains, Lakes & Rivers Settlement Land Use & Economic Activity Ecosystems
Breen Wood Rathlin Island Lough Neagh Cuilcagh Mountains Strangford Lough
Strangford Lough clipWatch Video Map

Script

Key Points

Strangford Lough is a tidal, salt water Lough in Country Down. The Lough contains over 120 islands, mudflats, sand flats and lagoons.

Strangford Lough is Northern Ireland's first marine nature reserve. It has also been classified as a special area of conservation. The Lough area consists of a wide range of marine habitats hosting 2000 marine species. This marine life provides a wealth of food for wintering waterfowl , wading birds and breeding sea birds.

The islands in the Lough provide protection for nesting birds from predators such as foxes.

Every day the water flows in and out of the Lough and makes a really strong tide. This keeps the water fresh and clean, but the strong tides make it difficult for boats to cross from one side of the Lough to the other.

A range of different sea-bed environments support a variety of under water life. Colourful sponges, corals, sea-anemones are found in the narrows.
Sea cucumbers and dog cockles bury themselves in the coarse gravels and sands.

Where the currents are more gentle, horse mussels grow on the muddy bed. In between the mussels, sponges, starfish, feather-stars and crabs can be found.

Lugworms live in the mudflats and provide food for the 45, 000 wading birds that winter at Strangford Lough. Eel-grass, provides fodder for 15, 000 grazing waterfowl, particularly light bellied Brent geese. Breeding seabirds feed on the Sand-eels and fry found in the surrounding water.

The Lough also supports the largest breeding population of common seals in Northern Ireland. Porpoises and whales come into the Lough occasionally from the Irish Sea.

People grow crops or graze animals on the land at either side of Strangford Lough. The Lough is at risk because of the pollution from nearby farms. Silage and fertilizer wash off the fields affecting the nutrient balance of the Lough.

People using the Lough for water-based pursuits such as sailing, jet-skiing and wind surfing can damage the marine habitats and disturb over-wintering birds.

Commercial fishing of crabs and oysters involves the dredging of the sea-bed. This disturbs the delicate balance of the reef-based ecosystem.

Strangford Lough is a tidal, salt water Lough in Country Down. The Lough contains over 120 islands, mudflats, sand flats and lagoons.

Strangford Lough hosts 2000 marine species providing food for waterfowl , wading birds and breeding sea birds.

A range of different sea-bed environments support a variety of under water life including anenomes, mussels and starfish.

The lough's lugworms, eel-grass and sand-eels provide food for the sea birds.

The Lough also supports the largest breeding population of common seals in Northern Ireland.

Pollution from farms, commercial fishing and water based sports all pose a threat to the ecosystem of the lough.



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