Data dump: Hunt for owner of USB stick found in seal poo

February 06, 2019

The owner of a USB stick is being tracked down by New Zealand officials - after it was found frozen in seal poo.

The only clue to help locate the mystery owner is a "data dump" of holiday pictures, including video filmed from a blue canoe or kayak in the waters around South Island.

The footage also shows a mother and baby sea lion playing nearby.

Scientists at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) made the unusual find after thawing a "scat" sample which was collected more than a year ago.

The team said they found something "large and hard" sealed in the sample - only to discover it was a fully working memory stick.

The scat was sent to marine biologists after a local vet found a "skinny" leopard seal on Oreti Beach in 2017 and decided to collect the specimen.

A volunteer for NIWA, Jodie Warren, said it was "worrying" that the seal had been found with plastic inside it.

Researchers have launched a social media appeal to find the holidaymaker, asking Twitter users if they recognise the video.

The team says the USB will be given back to its rightful owner, but would like some leopard seal scat in return.

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

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