Pet Scoop: Sea Turtles Thriving in Florida, SUV Full of Reptiles Stolen

Oct. 22, 2012: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

A loggerhead sea turtle walks on a Florida beach
Scientists in Florida have seen strong numbers of loggerhead sea turtles this year.

Loggerhead Sea Turtle Nests On The Rise This Year

There’s good news for sea turtles in Florida: Surveyors have counted more than 58,000 loggerhead nests along 250 miles of the state’s coastline — one of the highest counts for the threatened species in nearly 24 years, said the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Ninety percent of loggerhead nesting occurs in Florida, with most of it along the state’s East coast. "We're pleased to see this increase, but we recognize that loggerheads, and other sea turtle species, still face many challenges," said Blair Witherington, a FWC research scientist. Florida researchers have also seen a rise in the number of green turtles and leatherbacks, both federally endangered species, in recent years. — Read it at Live Science

Fish Use Magic to Hide From Predators

Harry Potter isn’t the only one with an invisibility cloak. A recent study published in the journal Nature Photonics found that silver-colored fish such as herring, sardines and sprat have the ability to create an optical illusion using two types of guanine crystal found in their skin, making them appear invisible at times to sea creatures higher on the food chain. "We believe these species of fish have evolved this particular multilayer structure to help conceal them from predators, such as dolphin and tuna," said Bristol University researcher. — Read it at Discovery News

Thieves Ditch Snake-Filled SUV

“Wildman Phil” travels with 15 reptiles in his Chevrolet Suburban, including Stumpy the three-legged tortoise and a 13-foot python, to educate and entertain school children. So when thieves stole his SUV last week from the parking lot of a Colorado Walmart — with all of his animals inside — they likely got more than they bargained for. “What a shock to those people who stole it — turned around and there’s a 8-foot snake behind them,” said a man who lives in a Denver neighborhood, where the vehicle was found abandoned a day later. The reptiles’ owner, Phil Rakoci, who had traveled from his Arizona home to Colorado for a reptile convention, was just relieved to have his troupe back — and that all of his animals were in good condition. “I might actually sleep tonight,” Rakoci said. — Watch it at Denver’s Fox 31

Rescued orangutan
This orangutan was rescued from starvation in Sumatra.

Conservationists Fight to Save Sumatran Orangutans 

There are less than 7,000 endangered Sumatran orangutans left in the wild on the Indonesian island of Sumatra  and that number is dwindling every day. Huge swaths of their forest home are being illegally cleared to make way for palm oil plantations, a cheap, edible oil that’s used in nearly half of all supermarket products, according to NBC News. But conservation organizations are fighting back, using drones to collect evidence of illegal clearing — and rescuing the apes they find in harm’s way. — Watch it at NBC News

Soldiers Share Strong Bond With Their Dogs

When Marine Cpl. Joseph Singer was seriously injured in Afghanistan, one of his first thoughts was of his bomb-sniffing canine partner, Yona. "Make sure my dog is all right," he told his platoon members as he was being loaded onto a medevac helicopter in July. His touching story is featured in a USA Today article that looks at the enduring ties between American military service members and the dogs they work with. "I never thought there was the possibility of getting that close to a dog before I had this job," said Singer, who had no interest in being a dog handler until he joined the Marines. Now recovering, he hopes to adopt the 8-year-old Belgian Malinois when she’s ready to retire from the military. — Read it at USA Today

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