Annex II species present as a qualifying feature

1. Harbour or Common seal Phoca vitulina

About 50% of the EU population of harbour (common) seals breed in the UK. They are smaller than the grey seal and are generally grey/brown in colour, made up of a mottle of dark spots on a lighter background. They are often seen on the shore in quite large groups. Common seals return to the same haul-out site day after day and females give birth to a single pup between June and July. Seal pups can swim and dive from birth, and are good swimmers by the time they are weaned during late July.

Strangford Lough is the most important breeding site for common seal in Ireland, and North Boretree Rock off Mount Stewart is one of the largest haul-outs in the Lough. Common seals can be seen anywhere in the Lough, but they are easiest to spot on rocky haul-outs close to the shore, such as Cloghy Rocks to the south of Strangford village, Castle Ward Bay, Granagh Bay south of Portaferry and near Ballyhenry Island just north of Portaferry.

The 2007 condition assessment found that this feature was in favourable condition.