Strangford Lough

Site overview: This site is situated on the east coast of Northern Ireland, and is a large shallow sea lough which is home to a wide variety of marine and intertidal habitats. There are two different protected areas here; a Special Protection Area and a Special Area of Conservation. Both are designated to protect different habitats and animals found here. This site was designated to protect the mudflats and sandflats here, some of which are home to meadows of eelgrasses and tasselled pondweed. Such large beds are rare in the British Isles. The coastal lagoons here are also protected, the Dorn is a silled lagoon on the eastern side of the site which connects several exceptionally sheltered bays to the main area of the lough. Near the mouth, rock barriers or sills hold back water as the tide falls, creating saltwater rapids, unique in Ireland. These rocks are also covered in sea anemones and sponges and are home to creatures such as the purple sun-star, sting winkle, king scallop and light-bulb sea-squirt. Many different types of bird use this area as a foraging and nesting ground.

Designation Status
Last Updated
6 June 2017
MPA Type
Special Area of Conservation
MPA Purpose
areas which have been identified as best representing the range and variety within the European Union of habitats and (non-bird) species listed on Annexes I and II to the Directive


54° 27' 58" North,
5° 36' 23" West

Surface Area

153.85 km2
(59.40 mi.2 )


227.46 km
(141.34 mi.)

Iconic features protected by this site


  • Atlantic salt meadows (Atlantic salt meadows (Glauco-Puccinellietalia maritimae))
  • Intertidal mudflats and sandflats (Mudflats and sandflats not covered by seawater at low tide)
  • Reefs


  • Common seal (Phoca vitulina)


  • Lagoons (Coastal lagoons)
  • Shallow inlets and bays (Large shallow inlets and bays)
  • Glasswort and other annuals colonising mud and sand (Salicornia and other annuals colonising mud and sand)
  • Annual vegetation of drift lines