By Stacey Leasca
February 06, 2019
Courtesy of National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research Ltd (NIWA)

Did you happen to lose a USB drive full of photos and videos of your vacation in New Zealand? Well, we’ve got good news and bad news for you. The good news is, scientists found it. The bad news is, they found it in seal poop.

Krista Hupman, a biologist in New Zealand who studies the feces of leopard seals, shared with The New York Times that her team found the odd discovery in fecal matter collected at Oreti Beach in the Southland region of the South Island of New Zealand in November 2017. The seal feces had previously been frozen for a later study of the animal’s diet, The New York Times explained.

“They said: ‘You won’t believe what we’ve found,’” Hupman said about the volunteer’s reaction to finding the USB stick.

According to the team, the USB stick was found fully intact with the cap still on. Best of all, it was still in working order.

The team checked out the memory stick and found images of wildlife taken at Porpoise Bay, which, The New York Times noted is almost 60 miles from where the feces was collected. However, there were no identifiable humans on the memory stick, only a blue kayak. Now, researchers are using that as a clue to help find the rightful owner.

“NIWA is searching for the owner of a USB stick found in the poo of a leopard seal,” the team tweeted. “[Recognize] this video? Scientists analyzing the scat of leopard seals have come across an unexpected discovery – a USB stick full of photos & still in working order!”

So far, Hupman noted, at least four people have come forward to claim ownership of the stick. However, Hupman does not believe any of those people are the actual owner.

Related: How to Spend the Ultimate, Thrill-seeking Week in New Zealand

While this is a rather humorous tale, volunteer Jodie Warren cautioned that it’s still a sign of potential environmental catastrophe.

"It is very worrying that these amazing Antarctic animals have plastic like this inside them," Warren said. "The more we can find out about these creatures, the more we can ensure they are looked after."

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