Protected area type: Special Areas of Conservation
Feature type: 
  • Habitat
  • Marine
  • Down
Council: Newry, Mourne and Down
Guidance and literature: Murlough SAC

Murlough SAC adjoins Dundrum Bay and includes the shallow waters of the Bay itself of importance as the largest area of shallow sub-littoral sandbanks in Northern Ireland.  The inter-tidal sands and muds are also extensive, the beach area at Ballykinler is important as a haul-out for Common Seal. 

The terrestrial element comprises the major dune systems of Murlough and Ballykinler, together with the relatively intact low dunes and ridges within Royal County Down golf club.  These host a range of dune communities, but most important, are the dune heath and grey dune grasslands.  The site is particularly important for the population of marsh-fritillary butterfly.  The Inner Bay supports limited saltmarsh.  The site is of international importance for earth science with contemporary coastal processes, including a classic ridge and runnel beach form, and associated dune forms, together with features important to understanding post-glacial sea-level history including the important underlying gravel series.  The dunes host important fossil soil horizons with associated archaeological artefacts.

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