Photos: BP oil spill residue found on pelicans in Minn.

Environment ·

1 Mark Clark, an ecologist and faculty member with North Dakota State University's biological sciences department, carries equipment to a boat on Minnesota's Marsh Lake on Wednesday, May 9, 2012. The lake is home to a colony of American white pelicans. Researchers are trying to determine whether pelicans carry residue from the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. 
2 American white pelicans take to the sky over Minnesota's Marsh Lake on Wednesday, May 9, 2012. The birds winter in the Gulf of Mexico and as far away as Cuba. 
3 Minnesota's Marsh Lake is home to several small islands that are popular with American white pelicans. Last year's official bird count tallied 17,000 pairs at this colony. The birds typically depart for the Gulf of Mexico by September or mid-September at the latest. 
4 Researchers Jeff DiMatteo, center, and Mark Clark, left, walk among nests and American white pelican chicks on Big Island on Minnesota's Marsh Lake on Wednesday, May 9, 2012. DiMatteo, a graduate student at North Dakota State University's biological sciences department, is studying the chicks to determine how well they do based on whether they hatch early or later in the season. Clark, an ecologist and faculty member with NDSU's biological sciences department, is gathering data on pelican eggs to develop ways to identify the state the egg is at by weight. They are also collecting eggs and blood samples to be tested for pollutants related to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. 
5 A cormorant chick opens its beak in this Wednesday, May 9, 2012, photograph on Minnesota's Marsh Lake. Nests of cormorants, American white pelicans and gulls are in close proximity to each other on several of the lake's islands. 
6 An American white pelican extends its wings on Big Island on Minnesota's Marsh Lake on Wednesday, May 9, 2012. Researchers are trying to determine whether pelicans carry residue from the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. There's concern that pelicans, which winter in the gulf, are picking up oil compounds called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and the chemical dispersant sprayed on oil slicks. 
7 The eggs and nests of American white pelicans are in close proximity to each other on Curry Island on Minnesota's Marsh Lake on Wednesday, May 9, 2012. Researchers are trying to determine whether pelicans carry residue from the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Research is in the very early stages and no one knows what the long-term impacts of exposure will be. 
8 A goose decoy sits between American white pelican nests on Big Island on Minnesota's Marsh Lake on Wednesday, May 9, 2012. That island alone is home to an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 pelican nests. The Marsh Lake Pelican colony is the largest in North America. 
9 A pair of American white pelican chicks sit in their nest on Wednesday, May 9, 2012. Adult birds typically lay two eggs per nest. The second chick to hatch usually doesn't survive, according to researchers. (MPR Photo/Ann Arbor Miller) 
10 An American white pelican sits on its nest and chicks on Big Island on Minnesota's Marsh Lake on Wednesday, May 9, 2012. That island alone is home to an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 pelican nests. Researchers are trying to determine whether pelicans carry residue from the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. 
11 Researcher and North Dakota State University graduate student Jeff DiMatteo positions an American white pelican chick in netting before weighing it on Big Island on Minnesota's Marsh Lake on Wednesday, May 9, 2012. DiMatteo is studying pelican chicks to determine how well they do based on whether they hatch early or later in the season. 
12 Mark Clark, an ecologist and faculty member with North Dakota State University's biological sciences department, reaches for a pair of American white pelican eggs on Curry Island on Minnesota's Marsh Lake on Wednesday, May 9, 2012. Clark is gathering data on eggs to develop a way to identify the egg's development stage by its weight. He's also collecting eggs to be tested for pollutants from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. 
13 Several islands on Minnesota's Marsh Lake are seasonally home to thousands of American white pelicans and other birds. The islands are off-limits to the general public. 
14 Minnesota's Marsh Lake sits west of Appleton and is home to thousands of American white pelicans and other birds that build nests on several islands and peninsulas -- all of which are off-limits to the general public.