A USB stick somehow managed to be eaten by a leopard seal where it miraculously survived the creature's digestive system, only to be pooped out and frozen in the pooh where it remained solid as a rock for a year. The scientists who uncovered the USB stick hope to reunite the technological tool with its owner, assuming they still want it back.
The seal poop, known scientifically as scat, had been collected to study the health of leopard seals. It had been stored in a freezer with the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research to be studied a year later, after it had been thawed out.
The sample was collected and submitted by a vet who had been charged with monitoring an ill leopard seal on Oreti Beach, Invercargill, located on New Zealand's South Island, reported the BBC. NIWA marine biologist Dr. Krista Hupman and the team at LeopardSeals.org run a network of volunteer scat collectors up and down the shores of New Zealand, who gather up the poop and send it to Hupman.
"The more we can find out about these creatures, the more we can ensure they are looked after," Hupman said.
While digging through the pooh, the stick emerged in decent condition, "considering where it had come from," Yahoo reported.Scientists in New Zealand say the USB memory stick holds precious holiday photos and miraculously still works. The USB stick specifically contained photos of sea lions at Porpoise Bay on New Zealand's South Island and video footage of a mother sea lion and her baby playing in the water.
"The only clue to who might have taken them is the nose of a blue kayak," NIWA shared on Twitter.
Despite the underlying humor involved in finding a fully functioning USB stick in seal pooh, scientists and vets are concerned about the piece of technology once residing inside a seal.
"It is very worrying that these amazing Antarctic animals have plastic like this inside them," NIWA volunteer Jodie Warren told the BBC.Warren was charged with sifting through this particular pooh sample at the NIWA. She first defrosted it, then sifted it. She ran the fecal sample under cold water, then broke it down. That's when she uncovered the USB stick.
The NIWA would like to reunite the USB stick with its owner – but only in exchange for additional scat. On the organization's website, it details how to go about gathering more samples.