Published July 19, 2010
Some Louisiana pelicans, oiled by the Gulf of Mexico spill, have been cleaned and relocated to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas, where they "really seemed to be enjoying themselves."
© 2010 National Geographic; video courtesy Texas Parks & Wildlife
Some Louisiana pelicans have been given a new chance on the Texas coast.
They were rescued from coastal areas contaminated with oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill.
They were cleaned and transported to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.
SOUNDBITE: Alex Nunez, Biologist, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department: "The state of Texas itself provides enough habitat that’s suitable for the release of these particular species."
The 115,000 acre refuge provides vital habitat for coast wildlife, including the largest flock of endangered whooping cranes living in the wild.
The rescued pelicans from this late June release appeared to be adapting.
SOUNDBITE: Nancy Brown, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: "One of the things you look for for animals or for wildlife is do they go out there and do they start preening? You know whenever a pelican starts preening, it’s indicative of they can. They can focus on preening as opposed to just surviving. And so the fact that these birds hit the water and immediately started preening it was like a bathtub out there. You could see them, they were flopping around and preening and really seemed to be enjoying themselves. So I think that’s an indication that these birds, they were happy to be on that water."
Wildlife specialists will be monitoring the birds.
SOUNDBITE: Daniel Mulcahy, Wildife Veterinarian: "Every bird that’s released following rehabilitation receives a stainless steel leg band that’s a standard U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service bird ID band that has a unique number. So if any of these birds are ever recaptured anywhere we can tell where they came from and what their experience was here in the spill."
At least on their first day in Texas, the pelicans were making themselves right at home.
SOUNDBITE: Daniel Mulcahy, Wildife Veterinarian: "They all flew out, got together as a group, have been preening, cleaning their feathers, and now are starting to distribute themselves around."
A captive-breeding program to restore one of North America's most endangered mammals to the western prairies of the United States may be starting to pay off.
Latest From Nat Geo
A brain-controlled exoskeleton and wheelchair offer insights into how the brain creates movement, scientists report.
Scientists investigate a mystery crater that opened on Siberia's Yamal Peninsula this past summer.
Technology yields new insight into how a Chinese emperor created an army for eternity within his tomb.
The Future of Food Series
We've made our magazine's best stories about the future of food available in a free iPad app.
How do we feed nine billion people by 2050, and how do we do so sustainably?