Scientists seek owner of USB stick stuck in seal poo

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

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

In November 2017, a vet who was out checking on the health of a skinny leopard seal at Invercargill's Oreti Beach, picked up a scat sample, and sent it to Dr Hupman.

Apparently the NIWA has a network of volunteers that walk around the country collecting scat, and the group sends the samples off to marine biologist Dr. Krista Hupman.

The freaky case of the USB drive began on Oreti Beach in November 2017, a windswept stretch of sand flanked by dunes on the southern tip of New Zealand's South Island.

New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) is seeking the owner of a USB stick its researchers found in seal poo. After determining it was a USB drive, the undigested hardware was allowed to dry off for a few weeks at room temperature.

This photo of a sea lion on a Southland beach was found on a USB stick swallowed by a leopard seal.

Now, NIWA scientists have posted video from the still-working stick on social media, in the hopes of reuniting it with its owner.

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For more than a year a frozen slab of leopard seal poo, which is scientifically known as "scat", has sat in a Niwa freezer.

Officials in New Zealand are now on the hunt for the owners of the USB stick to reunite them with their holiday footage of kayaking with sealions.

"It is very worrying that these wonderful Antarctic animals have plastic like this inside them", said volunteer Jodie Warren, who found the item.

It contained photos of sea lions at Porpoise Bay on New Zealand's South Island, and a video of a mother sea lion and her baby frolicking in shallow waters. There, NIWA says a vet went to check on a emaciated leopard seal and like any normal person, made a decision to scoop a pile of poop to send to researchers with leopardseals.org.

The poo can tell them what the seals eat, about their health and how long they've been in area waters.

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