Seal Poop Sample Contained a Surprise


In what is easily one of the weirdest press releases New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) has put out, the agency announced it had unearthed a fully functioning USB drive from a mound of frozen leopard seal poop.

Pulling it from the freezer, volunteer Melanie Magnan began the process of defrosting the leopard seal poo, which involves sifting the faeces.

"It is very worrying that these incredible Antarctic animals have plastic like this inside them", said Jodie Warren, a volunteer at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA).

A local veterinarian - part of NIWA's "network of volunteer seal-scat collectors up and down the country" - gathered the poop in November 2017 from Oreti Beach in Invercargill, a city on the southern tip of New Zealand's south island.

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.

The NIWA is offering to give the USB drive back to its rightful owner, but "it comes with a price".

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'We basically have to sift it.

A pair of researchers in New Zealand made a surprising discovery several weeks ago while analyzing a pile of seal poop.

According to the official NIWA website, scat cannot only give extensive information about the health of a seal and its personal hunting preferences without disturbing the animal but also highlights the fact that even species such as leopard seals have to cope with the invasion of people into their lives.

The group has promised to return the USB in exchange for a helping hand in their research from the owner. After determining it was a USB drive, the undigested hardware was allowed to dry off for a few weeks at room temperature. The only clue is the nose of the blue kayak in the video.

"The more we can find out about these creatures, the more we can ensure they are looked after", the institute said.

Hupman's work also includes analysing leopard seal sightings to determine if they are becoming more common in New Zealand waters.