Seals with smartphones in Orkney and three more animals embracing technology - from bees to pigeons

 
Lynsey Barber
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Smartphone-like tech will be attached to seals (Source: Press)

Scottish seals are getting smartphone-style technology to help scientists track their lives at sea.

The cute sea mammals around the coast of Orkney will be connected to the so-called Internet of Things via devices attached to their fur.

It will be able to send important data about its habits back to scientists at the University of St Andrews Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU), as part of a three year study into the declining population of harbour seals.

Information about things such as location, dive behaviour and the ocean environment will be sent from seal to scientist via the device which uses Vodafone's machine-to-machine technology (m2m) and network.

“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," said SMRU deputy director Dr Bernie McConnell.

The relationship between animals and technology may be an unusual one, but they are increasingly going hand-in-hand for ambitious scientists wanting to better monitor and track the world's environments and habitats. Here are three more animal's using technology to do just that.

Pigeons with backpacks

Far from a pest, pigeons with tiny backpacks were taken on by Plume Labs in an experiment to monitor the levels of pollution in London's air. The fantastically named Coco, Julius and Norbert could even give out readings for exact locations to anyone who requested one on Twitter. Read more.

Bees creating a radio buzz

Poor old honey bees, they're not having a good time. And scientists want to know why they're dyeing out at such a rapid rate. That's where tiny RFID (radio frequency identification) chips come in. Weighing just 5.4 milligrams and small enough to be attached to bees, Australian scientists have been able to track the movement of hives and flight paths as the chip transmits each bees movements.

Shark's life tale

Meet Mary Lee Shark.You can watch her swim around the world's oceans and she even shares where she is in updates on Twitter. In what we imagine is a little like Finding Nemo, Mary's life and movements are monitored in real-time with a gps tag that's picked up by satellites. In fact, there are tens of sharks being tracked around the world thanks to OCEARCH’s Global Shark Tracker.

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