Environment

Strangford Lough

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Strangford Lough is a designated Marine Conservation Zone and a
Special Area of Conservation under the EU Habitats Directive. The
Lough and surrounding areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are
currently nominated for UNESCO Global Geopark status.
The Sir Hans Sloane Centre aims to raise awareness of the environmental importance of the Lough and this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and their conservation. In particular through education on Climate Change and Plastic Pollution.  Through supporting and providing STEM education programmes, the Centre plans to work with the existing marine and environment interest groups to improve the stewardship of the Lough and maintain the quality of its water and ecosystems.  Some information on the Lough is given below.

HISTORY

- Early name in Irish - Lough Cuan - meaning sea-inlet of bays/havens.
- Viking settlement introduced the name Strangr Fjörðr from old Norse
meaning strong sea-inlet.
- The Lough and the Drumlins which surround it were formed at the end
of the last Ice Age.
- There are at least seventy islands and islets with bays, coves,
headlands and mudflats.
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FLORA  and FAUNA

Important for its Biodiversity, the lough is home to over 2,000 marine
species: Invertebrates, Algae and Saltmarsh Plants, Wetland Birds
and Marine Mammals: Octopi, Conger Eels, Angler Fish, Grey Seals,
Porpoises, Otters and multi-coloured Wrasse, as well as Brittle Stars,
Sea Anemones, and Sea Squirts.

These marine animals shelter in seaweed beds of Knotted, Channel,
Spiral, Bladder and Serrated Wracks and some low water Kelps.

In spring and summer the coast is dappled with Sea Aster, Scurvy Grass,
Thrift, Sea Campion, Mayweed and Sea Lavender.

Strangford Lough is an important breeding site for Harbour or Common
Seals. Over 70,000 water birds arrive every autumn to spend winter
on the extensive mudflats to feast on Eelgrass, Green Seaweeds and
Invertebrates. This includes up to 80% of the Canadian population of
pale bellied Brent Geese.

ACTIVITY ON THE LOUGH

Leisure activities include Sailing, Canoeing, Kayaking, Rowing and Fishing with an annual Regatta and International Coastal Rowing Championship.

Scientific Research Studies include coastal vegetation surveys as well as fieldwork carried out by the Ulster Museum, Environment and Heritage Service and Queen’s University, Belfast.

The world’s first commercial-scale tidal turbine was commissioned in the Lough in July 2008- working much like an underwater windmill with the rotors being driven by the power of the tidal currents.