“This is probably the weirdest set of coincidences in my life—ever,” says the owner of a USB stick found in a lump of frozen seal poop.
Here’s how it unfolds: In December 2017, sea lion volunteer Amanda Nally found an ailing sea lion on a beach on New Zealand’s South Island and phoned a hotline. While the animal was being examined, Nally spotted the sea lion’s feces, which was collected and sent to a lab, explains the Guardian.
When scientists finally got around to looking at the frozen specimen, they found the USB stick inside, then put the footage on TV to find the owner. Nally saw it on the nightly news and realized the USB stick was hers. She was shocked, per Newshub, but assumed she’d dropped the stick in the sample. However, researchers from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research have a wilder theory.
NIWA is searching for the owner of a USB stick found in the poo of a leopard seal…
Recognise this video? Scientists analysing the scat of leopard seals have come across an unexpected discovery – a USB stick full of photos & still in working order! https://t.co/2SZVkm5az4 pic.twitter.com/JLEC8vuHH0
— NIWA (@niwa_nz) February 5, 2019
Because the stick was “embedded deep in the poo,” which also contained plenty of feathers, researchers are “convinced that a bird ate my USB stick, and the leopard seal then ate the bird … and then bizarrely I come along and say, ‘Oh, there’s a sample we should send to NIWA,'” Nally tells the Guardian, which got confirmation of the theory from researchers.
The stick, hidden in the sample kept in a scientist’s freezer for more than a year, contained footage of “a very cool moment” in which Nally watched two sea lions pups from her blue kayak, per Newshub.
But as Nally already has copies of the video, she doesn’t want the stick back. “No one needs to spend $1 on the postage,” she tells the Guardian. (Here’s what not to do with a random USB.)