Scientists searching for owner of USB stick found frozen in seal poo

Scientists searching for owner of USB stick found frozen in seal poo

If you happened to misplace one on the southern tip of New Zealand's South Island, scientists from the country's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) are looking for you.

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

The scat sample spent almost a year in a NIWA freezer, until it was removed by volunteers Melanie Magnan and Jodie Warren in January.

"It is very worrying that these incredible Antarctic animals have plastic like this inside them", Hupman tells NIWA.

This particular scat had been collected by a local vet checking on the health of a skinny leopard seal resting on Oreti Beach, Invercargill.

Four people have come forward to claim the USB drive since its existence was reported Tuesday, but Hupman said she did not believe any of them was the actual owner.




About three weeks ago, volunteers thawed out the sample and discovered the memory stick, which was "in reasonably good condition considering where it had come from".

'We basically have to sift it.

The researchers had let it dry out for a few weeks before investigating the contents. Some images included a blue kayak, which the researchers hope might be recognizable to the stick's owner. They're so tough, it appears that passing through the digestive system of a leopard seal and spending a year in a freezer can't break them.

The team checked out the memory stick and found images of wildlife taken at Porpoise Bay, which, The New York Times noted is nearly 60 miles from where the feces was collected. After running the poop under a cold tap to defrost it and remove the "bones, feathers, seaweed and other stuff", the USB stick was found embedded deep inside.

"They said: 'You won't believe what we've found, '" she recalled. "It can tell them what these Antarctic predators eat, a little bit about their health and how long they may have been in New Zealand waters".

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