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Global Ideas

Through the lens

Join us as we take a look through the lens at some environmental events from around the world over the past week, including the ravenous spiders, stranded dolphins and wandering toads.

They may be small but it turns out spiders can really put away their meat. The arachnids eat between 400 and 800 million metric tons of insect meat and other prey. That's up to twice as much as human beings consume. Whales eat an estimated 280-500 million tons of seafood per year. 

One big problem for dolphins is becoming stranded on the beach. Scientists at U.S. university UC Santa Cruz believe the "need for speed" in flight may be a contributing factor. A paper published March 15 in the Journal of Experimental Biology found that startled beaked whales fleeing human noises expended 30.5 percent more energy when fleeing. When diving, the mammals have to balance speed and the length of time they hold their breath, leaving them more vulnerable when trying to escape "perceived threats." Here a dolphin is seen stranded on a beach in Japan. 

Bald eagles, along with the right to bear arms, are as American as apple pie. But what happens when one threatens the other's survival. That is exactly what biologists say the lead in ammunition is doing to the majestic bald eagle. Around 10 to 15 percent of bald eagles die in their first year because of lead poisoning. Lead ammunition ends up in flesh of dead animals that young eagles almost exclusively eat, according to British newspaper, The Guardian.  

On the outskirts of Kosovo's capital Pristina, traces of the mistreatment of brown bears can still be seen: an old restaurant billboard depicts the silhouette of a bear. In the restaurant's parking lot is a small battered cage that was once home to five bears. But a law aimed at ending the mistreatment and inadequate captivity of bears came into effect in 2010. Global Ideas visited a sanctuary where once captive bears are cared for and relearn natural behaviors. 

Warmer temperatures have prompted Germany's toads to hit the roads in search of their spawning grounds. But many never reach their destination: they're often squashed by cars. German biologists are trying to help the critters with three strategies: closing smaller roads to traffic, building tunnels to allow the amphibians to cross unharmed, and erecting special fences. 

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