Strangford Lough is an increasingly popular location for tourists and this year brought record numbers of another type of visitor – the grey seal. The largest sea inlet anywhere in the UK or Ireland is proving the perfect nursery for the species, with 181 pups born in its waters this autumn – the most since numbers were first counted in 1992. There were also 282 adults recorded in the lough at the peak of the breeding season in the autumn. It is a remarkable turnaround for the species, given that back in the early 1990s, when the National Trust started proactively recording the population, there were only around six or seven grey seal pups born each year. Hugh Thurgate, the National Trust’s lead ranger on Strangford Lough, said several factors had contributed to the growth.