Search for owner of USB found in Invercargill seal poo

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

Researchers in New Zealand are hoping to find the rightful owner of a USB stick that was found in frozen seal poop from over a year ago, containing a video of playful sea lions.

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

"It is very worrying that these fantastic Antarctic animals have plastic like this inside them", said Jodie Warren, a volunteer who was working in the lab of marine biologist Dr Krista Hupman when she recovered the USB stick.

The seal scat, Hupman said, was collected from Oreti Beach in the Southland region of the South Island of New Zealand in November 2017, and frozen for a later study of the animal's diet.

Nestled inside one of the excrement samples - about the size of two dinner rolls, if you must know - was something unusually hard: a USB stick.

On the memory stick - discovered intact and with the cap still on - were images of wildlife taken at Porpoise Bay, nearly 60 miles from where the scat was collected, but no identifiable human faces.




On it, they found several photos and videos of of what appear to be fur seals or sea lions on Porpoise Bay, about 96 kilometres away from where the scat sample was found.

"W$3 e basically have to sift it". "You put it under the cold tap, get all the gross stuff off, smoosh it around a bit and separate the bones, feathers, seaweed, and other stuff", Jodie Warren, a volunteer with leopardseals.org, told NIWA.

Hupman and her team study leopard seal scat samples as a way of monitoring the health of the species.

New Zealanders are also requested to report all sightings of the animals, document their location with videos and photographs, and call a dedicated leopard seal hotline. The volunteers then let the hardware dry for a couple weeks before popping it into a computer to view the contents.

The NIWA team are happy to return the USB stick to its owner but on one condition.

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