April 2016

Have you heard the one about the seals using smartphones? Well, it’s true, Seals in Orkney are to be fitted with smartphone technology to enable scientists to gain information about seal behaviour (however, since they don’t have opposable thumbs they won’t get to do any texting!). The transmitters will fall off when the seals moult. In the last 16 years harbour seal numbers have declined by up to 90% in some areas including Orkney. Data will be gathered on a seal’s location, dive behaviour and its oceanic environment. Hopefully this study will help scientists understand why there are these changes in harbour seal populations in certain areas and to see what conservation and management options might help.

In our area we are fortunate in that our population of these seals is not in decline although they are still under threat from over fishing or being shot by salmon farms. On our trips we hope to see these amazing creatures most days either sunning themselves on the rocks or surfacing and checking us out!