A USB stick found in the body of a sea leopard

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Researchers based in New Zealand wanted to carry out analysis on sea leopard feces.  While carrying out their analysis, they were confronted with a USB stick.  However not only was this stick still functional, it also contained holiday snaps and videos! 

A “survivor” USB stick

According to Reuters media group in an article published in February 5 2019, biologist Dr. Kristia Hupman from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) made a rather surprising discovery.  The biologist found a USB stick in the feces of a sea leopard which had been recently defrosted after almost a year in storage!

After two weeks of drying out the USB in question was still in working order and the researchers could have a look at the contents.  There were photos and videos that showed the holiday makers looking at sea leopards.

The excrement in question was taken at the end of 2017 from Oreti Beach, situated on the south point of New Zealand.  It turns out that these animals often frequent New Zealand waters during winter while they normally stay in the Antarctica.

Credits: Wikimedia Commons

What is really hidden behind this discovery

The volunteer Jodi Warren who collected the sea leopard feces discussed the situation in a statement issued by NIWA.  The collection of feces aimed to check the specie’s state of health and the evolution of their diet.  According to Ms Warren, the discovery of the USB stick wasn’t a coincidence and is proof that marine animals are frequently ingesting plastic. This adds to an already full list of plastic items that have ingested by marine wildlife.

A recent study has shown that fish are confusing plastic particles with plankton.  It is also believed that microplastics are found on all turtle species.  What is more, in 2018 a whale was found dead in Thailand with 8 kg of plastic bags in it’s stomach.  A sperm whale was also found in dead in Indonesia with 6 kg of plastic and while another sperm whale was found in Spain with 29 kg of plastic in it’s stomach.

Sea leopards are among the five species of seals that are found in Antarctica.  They live solitary lives and in regions that are difficult to access.  There population is believed to be around 35, 000 although due to the above reasons it is difficult to know for sure.  Since 1996 this species is on the IUNC red list of threatened species.

Sources : ReutersWashington Post

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