Pet Scoop: Leatherback Sea Turtles Could Face Extinction, Group Offers Pet Food Stamps

Feb. 27, 2012: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

Leatherback sea turtles are facing a sharp decline in their nesting numbers.
Leatherback sea turtles are facing a sharp decline in their nesting numbers.

Turtle Nest Site Numbers Falling

A new study finds that the number of leatherback sea turtle nests at Jamursba Medi Beach in Papua Barat, Indonesia — which makes up 75 percent of the total leatherback nesting in the western Pacific — has been falling rapidly. From a peak of 14,455 in 1984, their numbers fell to 1,532 in 2011, and scientists say less than 500 leatherbacks now nest at this site annually. "If the decline continues, within 20 years it will be difficult if not impossible for the leatherback to avoid extinction," said Thane Wibbels, Ph.D., of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service and the World Wildlife Fund also took part in the study on the world’s largest marine turtle. It was published in the Ecological Society of America's scientific online journal Ecosphere. — Read it at Science Daily

Pet Food Stamps Program Gets a Big Response

In the last two weeks, more than 45,000 pets have been signed up to receive Pet Food Stamps. The new program is donation-based, and its non-profit status is pending. Anyone in the U.S. can apply, and the program evaluates each claim by need and income. “It aims to prevent people from having to choose from feeding themselves or their pets or having to surrender their pet to a high-kill shelter,’’ executive director Marc Okon told KRQE News. While many local pet food banks across the country offer food on an emergency basis, this program aims to offer longer-term help. — Read it at Today

Could Spider Silk Stop a Train?

A group of physics students at the University of Leicester in the U.K. have calculated that if a spider web was anchored properly, it could actually halt a New York City subway train moving at full speed — just like in Spider Man 2. The three students found that just one web spun by a Darwin’s bark spider from Madagascar would do the trick. That spider’s silk has been determined to be tougher than any other known material. — Read it at Discovery News

Victory the Chihuahua will get prosthetic front legs.
Victory the Chihuahua will get prosthetic front legs.

Two-Legged Pup to Get Prostheses

Victory already has a winning attitude. But now things could get easier for the Chihuahua, who was born without functioning front legs. After being dropped off at the Dearborn, Mich., Animal Shelter by someone who said they found her running down the street, enough donations have been raised to provide Victory with prosthetic legs. “She’s lived her whole life this way and has learned to acclimate to having this disability,” says Elaine Greene of Friends for the Dearborn Animal Shelter. Greene hopes to see Victory trained as a therapy dog who can help people with disabilities. — Watch it at USA Today

Elephant Seals Show Scientists Depths of Antarctic

Donning head sensors as they swam deep in the Antarctic Ocean — in places that ships could not reach — the massive seals have helped scientists get a better understanding of the ocean’s role in the world’s climate. The sensors transmitted data from the seal’s deep dives to a satellite, providing the researchers at the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystem CRC in Tasmania with information about the existence of a fourth area where “Antarctic bottom water” is formed. These layers of water near the ocean floor are believed to have a significant impact on the movement of the world’s oceans. — See photos at Reuters via NBC News

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