Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 

They were defrosting leopard seal poo...

MEDIA RELEASE

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2019

They were defrosting leopard seal poo...you won't believe what happened next!

For more than a year a frozen slab of leopard seal poo sat in a NIWA freezer.

The poo, known scientifically as scat and about the size of two bread rolls, is as good as gold for leopard seal researchers. It can tell them what these Antarctic predators eat, a little bit about their health and how long they may have been in New Zealand waters.

It’s so valuable to scientific research that NIWA marine biologist Dr Krista Hupman and the team at LeopardSeals.org run a network of volunteer scat collectors up and down the country who gather the evidence and send it to her for analysis.

That’s why a local vet, out checking on the health of a skinny leopard seal resting on Oreti Beach, Invercargill, picked up a scat sample, packaged it up and sent it to Dr Hupman who popped it in the freezer.

That was November, 2017. And there it stayed until three weeks ago when it was removed by volunteers Jodie Warren and Melanie Magnan.

Theirs is not glamorous work.

First they must defrost the sample. “Then we basically have to sift it. You put it under the cold tap, get all the gross stuff off, smoosh it around a bit and separate the bones, feathers, seaweed and other stuff,” explains Jodie.

This was all happening when they discovered something large and hard. Concealed deep inside the scat was a USB stick. Jodie was not impressed.

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

But the memory stick was in reasonably good condition considering where it had come from. So they left it to dry out for the next couple of weeks in the hope they may be able to see what information it contained.

And, ironically, there are photos of sealions at Porpoise Bay in the Caitlins and a video of a mum and baby sealion frolicking in the shallows The only clue to who might have taken them is the nose of a blue kayak.

a bunch of big flat rocks on a beach, including a baby sea lion under a rock bridge but at this size you wouldn't see it anyway

If they’re yours and you want the USB stick back, it comes with a price. The leopard seal researchers would like some more leopard seal scat please.

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

a sea lion rolling around on a beach
There is information at www.leopardseals.org on what the scat looks like (thick puddles in varying colours), how to collect it (gloves and an ice cream container!), and how to say safe (keep at least 20m away from the animals).

Dr Hupman’s work also includes analysing leopard seal sightings in a bid to determine whether they are becoming more prevalent in New Zealand waters.

For more information on leopard seals and how to report a sighting seewww.leopardseals.org


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Industry Report: Growing Interactive Sector Wants Screen Grants

Introducing a coordinated plan that invests in emerging talent and allows interactive media to access existing screen industry programmes would create hundreds of hi-tech and creative industry jobs. More>>

ALSO:

Ground Rules: Government Moves To Protect Best Growing Land

“Continuing to grow food in the volumes and quality we have come to expect depends on the availability of land and the quality of the soil. Once productive land is built on, we can’t use it for food production, which is why we need to act now.” More>>

ALSO:

Royal Society: Calls For Overhaul Of Gene-Technology Regulations

An expert panel considering the implications of new technologies that allow much more controlled and precise ‘editing’ of genes, has concluded it’s time for an overhaul of the regulations and that there’s an urgent need for wide discussion and debate about gene editing... More>>

ALSO:

Retail: Card Spending Dips In July

Seasonally-adjusted electronic card spending dipped in July by 0.1 percent after being flat in June, according to Stats NZ. Economists had expected a 0.5 percent lift, according to the median in a Bloomberg poll. More>>

ALSO:

Product Stewardship: Govt Takes More Action To Reduce Waste

The Government is proposing a new way to deal with environmentally harmful products before they become waste, including plastic packing and bottles, as part of a wider plan to reduce the amount of rubbish ending up in landfills. More>>

ALSO:

Earnings Update: Fonterra Sees Up To $675m Loss On Writedowns

“While the Co-op’s FY19 underlying earnings range is within the current guidance of 10-15 cents per share, when you take into consideration these likely write-downs, we expect to make a reported loss of $590-675 million this year, which is a 37 to 42 cent loss per share." More>>

ALSO: