USB drive survives two years in seal poop before being reunited with its owner

how a usb drive found in seal poop got reunited with its owner leopard  sea hydrurga leptonyx paradise bay antarctica
Arterra/UIG via Getty Images

Scientists working at New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) have reunited a photo-filled USB stick with its owner after discovering it in a lump of seal feces.

To say the USB stick had been on an incredible journey is putting it mildly, as it had apparently not only survived the digestive processes of a carnivorous aquatic mammal, but also proved resilient to the stodgy unpleasantness of a pile of poop.

The bizarre story began in November 2017 when scientists collected the seal scat from Oreti Beach on New Zealand’s South Island for a study of the animal’s diet.

Last month, two volunteers removed the sample from frozen storage in preparation for the study. It was then that they discovered the  fecal-covered flash drive.

The team were keen to see if there was any data on the drive, and so, presumably after having given it a thorough wipe-down, they stuck it into a computer.

To their surprise, it worked just fine. On it they found a bunch of photos along with video clips shot at Porpoise Bay, about 60 miles from where the poop had been collected.

The footage was shot from a kayak with seals swimming around it, but neither the clips nor the images contained shots of people, making the challenge of reuniting the drive and its owner potentially more challenging.

But the NIWA did what anyone in this situation would do and posted a clip on social media to see if anyone recognized the kayak.

Whether or not the poop angle made the story go viral isn’t clear (OK, it absolutely did), but thanks to the global coverage lavished upon this peculiar tale earlier this week, the drive’s owner was located in the space of just one day.

It belongs to Kiwi Amanda Nally, a local with a deep interest in seals and who often visits the area to study the animal.

Nally assumed she had dropped the stick during one of her outings, but the scientists who recovered the USB drive believe that as it was found deep inside the pile of poop, it was most likely eaten by a seal before being deposited on the beach.

The maker of the drive hasn’t yet been revealed, but the company would be well advised to use Nally’s story as part of an ad campaign to highlight the durability of its device.

And this isn’t the first time that we’ve learned about the remarkable robustness of storage devices. Back in 2012, for example, we heard about a guy who was able to recover his wedding photos from an SD card 20 months after they were lost in mud following an earthquake. And then there was the fella who found a camera in the bottom of a creek. The CompactFlash card still worked fine, with clues taken from the images helping him to track down the photographer.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Hi-viz bike reflectors and a tiny flashlight

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Movies & TV

Stay inside this winter with the best shows on Hulu, including 'Legion'

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.

Enjoy Windows on a Chromebook with these great tips and tricks

If you want to push the functionality of your new Chromebook to another level, and Linux isn't really your deal, you can try installing Windows on a Chromebook. Here's how to do so in case you're looking to nab some Windows-only software.

Switch your WMA files for MP3s with our quick conversion tips

The WMA codec may be great when it comes to multi-channel surround sound, but unfortunately, it falters in terms of compatibility. Check out our guide on how to convert WMA files to MP3 via web-based or desktop methods.

Looking for a new laptop? These 5 notebooks are on sale through Presidents’ Day

If you're ready to ditch your aging notebook, you can score some fantastic Presidents' Day savings right now on Microsoft's Surface Pro 6, Dell's XPS 13, HP's Spectre x360, Lenovo's Yoga C930, and Dell's G5 15 Gaming laptops.
Virtual Reality

Getting into VR is spendy. Which headset is truly worth your hard-earned cash?

Virtual reality has finally gone mainstream, but how do you find the best VR headset for you? Check out a few of our favorites, whether you want the best of the best or a budget alternative for your mobile device.

These Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts will take your skills to a new level

Windows 10 has many new features, and they come flanked with useful new keyboard shortcuts. Check out some of the new Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts to improve your user experience and save more time!

What is Wi-Fi 6? Here's a look at the next evolution of the wireless standard

We're exploring the new naming convention for wireless standards, how it affects the devices you buy, and what the upcoming Wi-Fi generation is changing for the better.

Windows is getting a face-lift in 2020, but you can get a sneak peek right now

Microsoft is increasing the lead time for an upcoming major update to Windows 10, giving Windows Insiders the ability to test it right now, even though it's not set for release until 2020.
Emerging Tech

A.I.-powered website creates freakishly lifelike faces of people who don’t exist

No, this isn't a picture of a missing person. It's a face generated by a new artificial intelligence on the website Here's how the impressive A.I. works.

The best Presidents’ Day sales 2019: Amazon, Walmart, Dell, and more

Presidents' Day sales are a great chance to score electronics, clothing, home and office stuff, and other goodies at a discount. We’ve smoked out a large handful of the best of these Presidents' Day deals, from tech to bedding, to help…

Keep your MacBook safe and dry with an Under Armour backpack for under $50

Under Armour is having a huge sale this weekend to help you on your quest for a better backpack. The UA Outlet Exclusive sale is going on now through Monday, February 18th, offering great discounts on stormproof backpacks.