. Experts are still trying to figure out how to stop their declining numbers. They could disappear from Scotland’s coast if they aren’t targeted quickly. Numerous harbour seals were fitted with tags that contain Vodafone technology. These tags are small, lightweight and totally harmless. They will be used to monitor Harbour Seals. They fall off when the animal mules. (Image: mediacentre.vodafone.co.uk) Seals fitted with harmless marine tags Marine scientists at the Sea Mammal Research Unit, part of St Andrews University in Scotland, will attach the next generation of marine telemetry tags at the back of the heads of the animals. These tags are lightweight, small and totally harmless. The marine tag works in much the same way as a smartphone and drops off when the seal moults. Vodafone’s M2M (machine to machine) technology will be used to transmit vital information – from seals on the beach or when they come to shore – to the Sea Mammal Research Unit for analysis. Standard feature of M2M technology M2M technology is now a feature on many devices including smart meters and heart monitors. This is however the first use of it to monitor marine mammals. According to SMRU, “The vast majority of UK Harbour Seals are found on the rugged coastlines of Scotland’s north and west and Northern and Western Isles.” (Image: smru.st-andrews.ac.uk) Over the 3-year period, SMRU researchers will receive data from the tags. Policymakers will be able to use the data they collect and analyze to determine the most effective ways to stop the decline in Harbour seal population. Vodafone claims that its dedicated M2M network will greatly improve data collection on seals’ diving behaviour, oceanic conditions, and location. This system is compatible with several mobile technology. One PC will allow marine scientists to monitor the status of each SIM card within each marine tag. Scottish Seals are rapidly disappearing SMRU was commissioned by Scottish Natural Heritage, and the Scottish Government. Both parties are concerned about the survival of harbour seals throughout Scotland. The Harbour seal population on the North and East coasts of Scotland including Orkney has declined by as much as 90% in the past year 2000.. According to the Harbour Seal Decline Project, a mother will give birth at sea in June or July (in Scotland), and only one pup is born. Twin births are very rare. The pups are capable of swimming as soon as their mother gives birth and can follow their mothers into water. After three to five weeks of milking, the mother gives her pup a rich, fat-rich diet. The pup is then weaned. The 3-year-old project will see the completion of which will put Scottish ministers in an even better position to make decisions about what should be done. We need to first understand why our population is declining so quickly. Are there any factors that are contributing to the rapid decline in population, such as offshore wind and wave generators, seal diseases, or interactions with salmon fisheries? Chief marine advisor for Scottish Natural Heritage Professor John Baxter stated: “This exciting collaborative study is vital in helping us better understand the drivers and evaluate the conservation and management options available to us.” Since around 2000., Harbour Seal populations have declined around the East and North coasts of Scotland, as well as in the Northern Islands. Since 2000., numbers have dropped by 95% on the Tay Estuary (East Coast), approximately 75% at Orkney and about 30% to Shetland. However, the West Coast and Western Isles have stable or growing populations. (Image: synergy.st-andrews.ac.uk) Dr. Bernie McConnell, SMRU’s Deputy Director, said: “Over the last 15 years, many of the harbour seal populations in the Northern Isles and on the north and east coasts of Scotland have been declining. The marine data collected by the SMRU on Orkney during the project will be used to determine the reasons, management, and mitigation options for the decline in harbour seal populations. It also helps to prioritize future research directions. Helen Lamprell from Vodafone UK, Corporate and External Affairs Director commented that the first mobile phone call was made over thirty years ago. Now, we will be the first company that transmits valuable information about seals.” According to the Sea Mammal Research Unit, it has been carrying out surveys “since the late 1980s in order to monitor the population of harbor seals in Scotland. The annual moult is when seals arrive at shore in their greatest numbers. This provides an indicator of the population size by calculating how many harbour seals are present in each location. (Image: smru.st-andrews.ac.uk) “This project is proof that collaborations between government, science and the private sector can work to improve better informed policy decisions on the environment. “We are thrilled to offer Bernie our consultancy and technology access.” Video – Harbour Seal This Visit Scotland video shows you how Harbour Seals love to sunbathe. You can often see them relaxing on the rocky coasts.
Home Innovation The smartphone technology of smartphones is helping to solve mystery surrounding the decline in Harbour Seal populations along Scotland’s coast
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