Trying to capture every moment of your getaway is essential to keeping the memories you want to have forever. But sometimes things go awry.
On vacation, you are sure to lose a thing or two along the way—your favorite baseball cap, some cash that fell out of your pocket—maybe even a child!
However, one researcher found one irreplaceable belonging in the most unlikely of places.
A biologist in New Zealand found a USB drive full of photos and videos in the fecal matter of a seal, which had previously been frozen.
Your first question may be, “Why was the biologist digging around in seal poop?” Simply put, it’s her job.
Krista Hupman, who works at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, studies the feces of leopard seals to learn about their diet and why the Antarctic species keeps migrating further north.
Your second question might be, “Why was the poop frozen?” Well, it has to be!
Scientists have to get seal scat while the gettin’s good.
Dr. Hupman and her team collected the sample back in November 2017 from Oreti Beach but didn’t have time to examine it (yuck!) – so they froze it for later.
Two volunteers were examining the fecal sample, according to the New York Times, when they called for Dr. Hupman proclaiming, “You won’t believe what we’ve found.”
The volunteers discovered a fully-intact USB drive in the sample of fecal matter.
And, if you are like me, your third question is, “Is that the weirdest thing the researchers have found in their years of digging through seal droppings?”
According to the New York Times, Hupman finds “surprises” in poop samples all the time. Common discoveries include feathers, fish bones, and birds’ feet.
These are understandable, considering that leopard seals feast on krill, fish, squid, other seals, and penguins.
They are in, in fact, the only seals to routinely hunt warm-blooded prey, according to National Geographic.
However, the thawed out USB drive (that still worked!) full of vacation memories is “definitely the weirdest” find for Hupman and her team so far.
Not only was the USB drive still functional, but the cap was still on it as well.
When the USB drive was reviewed, it was contained images of wildlife taken at Porpoise Bay—nearly 60 miles away from where the research team collected the seal’s sample!
Funny enough, there were no “identifiable human faces” on the drive. The only clue they have is the multiple images of a blue kayak which researchers hope will lead them to the mystery owner.
But the island offers several places to kayak, notably Marlborough Sounds and Lake Taupo, and people come from all over the world to kayak in New Zealand.
Finding someone who used a blue kayak back in 2017 is like looking for a needle in a haystack.
While four people have come forward to claim the USB drive, they were unable to successfully answer a series of questions by Dr. Hupman that would prove true ownership.
(Why in the world would someone want a stranger’s vacation photos?)
The drive contained descriptive file names which they were unable to name, thus the search continues.
In fact, the search for the rightful owner of the USB drive has caused excitement for the natives. One New Zealander wrote on twitter, “This is the most NZ CSI ever.”
But finding the home for the lost USB drive is only part of the reason why the biology team is making it a public announcement.
They are also hoping to recruit some novice volunteers to collect seal scat when they vacation at New Zealand’s beaches.
And just what do you do with a handful of seal scat when you are on vacation?
You mail it of course!
On Dr. Hupman’s website, she goes through detailed instructions on how to properly scoop up seal scat, freeze it, and then send it to her team.
“Weirdly enough, you can put it in the post,” Hupman explains—it just needs to stay frozen during the trip.
Don’t worry, New Zealand has more to offer than seal scat samples.
There are volcanoes, beaches, glaciers, lakes, and farms, making New Zealand one of the most unique places to visit as Proud American Traveler has previously reported.
So anyway, if you saw someone paddling around in blue kayak who looked like they may have lost something important, call the research team immediately.
Please tell us if you’ve ever discovered something unexpected on a beach, or ever lost something irreplaceable on vacation.