NIWA searches for the owner of a USB found in a frozen seal poo

After a year in a NIWA freezer, a slab of leopard seal poo has been thawed to reveal a surprising additive - a USB stick, still in working order.

NIWA volunteers Jodie Warren and Melanie Magnan discovered the techy titbit, and Ms Warren says the discovery was not a welcome one.

"It is very worrying that these amazing Antarctic animals have plastic like this inside them.

The sample had been submitted by a local vet who had been monitoring a skinny leopard seal on a beach.

 Dr Krista Hupman had deposited the sample in a freezer in November 2017, having no idea of the secret it held.

Amazingly, the USB was still in working condition. It contained photos of sea lions at Porpoise Bay in the Caitlins, plus some video of a seal and her pup playing in the shallows.

The only tip to the identity of the USB owner is the nose of a blue kayak, visible in the video of the two seals.

If the USB is yours, NIWA says you can have it back - for a price.

They need more poo.

The seal poo, scientifically known as scat, is incredibly valuable. It helps NIWA researchers find out what these seals eat, and how healthy they are.

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

Information on how to safely collect the poo is available at

Contribute to science, and scoop some scat.