If the person who owns and lost the USB drive wants it back they're going to have to provide NIWA with another sample of seal scat that the researchers can use for further research. "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".
A functioning USB stick has been found in the scat of a rare Antarctic leopard seal, prompting New Zealand's national science body to launch a hunt for the owner. There, NIWA says a vet went to check on a emaciated leopard seal and like any normal person, chose to scoop a pile of poop to send to researchers with leopardseals.org.
They included instructions for how to identify and safely collect leopard seal scat, which they said is "good as gold" for researchers.
In November 2017, the scat sample, which is roughly the size of two bread rolls, was collected by a local vet at Oreti Beach in New Zealand.
Two volunteers who take part in the not-so-glamourous work are Jodie Warren and Melanie Magnan.
It was while undergoing this sorting process that the team found something "large and hard".
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"It is very worrying that these awesome Antarctic animals have plastic like this inside them", says NIWA volunteer Jodie Warren, who helped sift the scat with the stick inside. After it was left to dry out for a few weeks, the volunteers discovered the USB still worked.
NIWA put out the call to find the owner on Monday and posted footage from the memory stick showing the nose of a blue kayak.
Ironically, there are photos of sealions at Porpoise Bay in the Caitlins and a video of a mum and baby sealion frolicking in the shallows.
The device was in good condition "considering where it had come from", the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) said on its website. The leopard seal researchers would like some more leopard seal scat please.
"The more we can find out about these creatures, the more we can ensure they are looked after", the institute said.