Scientists seek owner of USB stick stuck in seal poo

A Leopard Seal appears to roll around laughing while resting on sea ice

Enlarge A Leopard Seal appears to roll around laughing while resting on sea

"It is very worrying that these unbelievable Antarctic animals have plastic like this inside them", said Jodie Warren, a volunteer with New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), who found the USB stick.

Scientists in New Zealand say they uncovered a still-functioning USB stick from some animal seal poop last month.

Volunteers scouring through some critical seal poo evidence for a NIWA research have come across a surprising find.

"It is very worrying that these awesome Antarctic animals have plastic like this inside them", Warren said.

Scientists at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research made the startling discovery after thawing the sample, as it is scientifically known, which was collected at Oreti Beach on South Island in November 2017.


They included instructions for how to identify and safely collect leopard seal scat, which they said is "good as gold" for researchers.

When they found the USB stick, the researchers spent three weeks drying it out with a hairdryer and working to recover the data.

After allowing the USB stick to dry for a few weeks, the two volunteers checked to see what was stored on it.

"W$3 e basically have to sift it".

Ironically, the USB drive contained photos and a video of sea lions on a New Zealand beach located about an hour away from where the seal poop was originally found.


If you're missing a USB stick from a seal-watching expedition to New Zealand, we have some great news for you.

The specific sample of scat that the USB was found in was sent to NIWA in November 2017 by a vet who was in the area checking on a seal and voluntarily picked up the scat and sent it into the labs.

Researchers analyse seal faeces to assess the health and diet of seals in New Zealand waters. The only clue is the nose of the blue kayak in the video.

"If they're yours and you want the USB stick back, it comes with a price".

"They said: 'You won't believe what we've found, '" she recalled.


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