Vodafone will supply its M2M technology to aid researchers in determining the cause of seal population decline in Scotland.

Under a three-year, government-backed initiative, the Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) at the University of St Andrews will attach SIM-equipped marine telemetry tags to a number of harbour seals off Orkney, Scotland.

The tags - which are capable of withstanding depths of up to 200 metres - will send information when the seals surface or beach to the SMRU for analysis. Location, dive behaviour and oceanic condition data will also be collected.

The small and lightweight tags then detach when the seals moult.

Harbour seals have experienced up to a 90 percent decline in population in some areas in and around the north and east coasts of Scotland since 2000.

The study – initiated at the request of the Scottish Government and the Scottish Natural Heritage – hopes to provide data and analysis to ministers to enable marine policy reform, particularly in the areas of marine renewables such as offshore wind and wave turbines, unexplained seal deaths, and interactions with salmon fisheries.