Operator will provide connectivity for tags attached to seals in the Orkeney isles as part of three-year, government-backed scheme
Vodafone UK will connect seals to the Internet of Things (IoT) after striking a deal with the Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) at the University of St Andrews to provide connectivity for marine telemetry tags.
The SMRU will attach the harmless tags to seals in the Orkeney Islands as part of a three year study into the decline of harbour seals in the area.
The marine tags use Vodafone’s machine-to-machine connectivity to send vital information on seals’ location, dive behaviour and its oceanic environment back to scientists at SMRU whenever it surfaces or beaches.
Vodafone UK’s corporate and external affairs director Helen Lamprell added: “The first mobile call was made on our network more than thirty years ago. We will now be the first company to help transmit valuable information from seals.
“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 delighted to be able to provide Bernie and his team with access to our technology and consultancy.”
The SMRU study is being carried out at the request of the Scottish Government and Scottish Natural Heritage due to the decline of harbour seals, whose numbers have decline around 90 per cent in some areas in and around the North and East coast of Scotland since the year 2000.
SMRU’s Deputy Director Dr Bernie McConnell 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.
“Marine data collected during this project on Orkney will help to assess the causes, management and mitigation options in relation to the harbour seals decline and to prioritise future research directions.”