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Environmentalists develop novel device to track harbour seals
The harbour seal population in Orkney has fallen by around 70 per cent in recent years.
Device uses mobile network to transmit valuable data 

Environmentalists in Scotland have developed a novel way to keep track of a declining seal population.

Created by the University of St Andrews Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) and colleagues at Vodafone, the mobile transmitter can track where harbour seals go at sea and relay that information when they return to the surface.

The device is attached to the seal to log data on behaviour, such as dive depth, location and temperature. It then delivers the information back to the researchers via the mobile network.

According to research by the SMRU, the harbour seal population in Orkney has fallen by around 70 per cent in recent years. The group has received government funding to investigate the causes of this decline.

With the data they receive back from the transmitters, the researchers hope to identify the causes of pollution as well as the various effects it has on the ocean’s ecosystem. The project, dubbed “The Internet of the Seas,” may also reveal insights into why seal numbers are dropping.

Dr Bernie McConnell, deputy director of the SMRU, has seen the impact we are having on our seas first hand from his research in the Orkney Islands and strongly believes we need to be taking much more care.

He said: “We have to think more carefully about how we use the oceans and ensure we don’t use the oceans as a dumping ground. It’s a living system and if we don’t take care of it, it will get ill. The drop in the harbour seal population could be one of those symptoms”.

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Newborn okapi named after Meghan Markle

News Story 1
 An endangered okapi recently born at London Zoo has been named Meghan - after Prince Harry’s fiancé Meghan Markle - in celebration of the upcoming royal wedding. Okapis are classed as endangered in the wild, having suffered ongoing declines since 1995. Zookeeper Gemma Metcalf said: “We’re very pleased with how mother and baby are doing. Oni is being very attentive, making sure she regularly licks her clean and keeping a watchful eye over Meghan as she sleeps.” Image © ZSL London Zoo  

News Shorts
Ten new cases of Alabama rot confirmed

Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists has confirmed 10 new cases of Alabama rot, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the UK to 122.

In a Facebook post, the referral centre said the cases were from County Durham, West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Staffordshire, Sussex, West Somerset, Devon, and Powys.

Pet owners are urged to remain vigilant and seek advice from their vet if their dog develops unexplained skin lesions/sores.