Photos: Researchers capture, track loons in Minn.

Environment Nathaniel Minor · ·

1 The bugs were thick at around 9:30 p.m. as Kevin Kenow, a research wildfile biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, shines a high-powered spotlight from a research boat looking for loons on South Turtle Lake in Otter Tail County, Minn. on Wednesday, July 10, 2013 
2 It took the research team about an hour to find their first loon. Pictured here, Kevin Kenow scoops up the female loon later in the night. The team used taped loon calls to pinpoint the birds' locations. 
3 From left: Kevin Kenow and Luke Fara, a USGS biological science technician, wrestle a captured loon into a box. 
4 From left, Steve Houdek, a USGS biological science technician, and Kevin Kenow wrestle a captured loon into a box. Once out of the water, the researchers say loons are generally calmer. 
5 Back on shore, the researchers prepare the loons for testing. One researcher holds the loon down, another collects blood samples and other data, and a third records the information. 
6 From left: Kevin Kenow and Steve Houdek collect a blood sample from a captured loon on the shore of South Turtle Lake. The blood can tell scientists if this loon was exposed to residue from the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico or mercury and other contaminants. 
7 Kevin Kenow collects a blood sample from a captured loon. 
8 Kevin Kenow places a new identification band on a captured loon. The loon is missing a geo-locator that contained an entire year of data about where it traveled and how deep it dove. Kenow says he'll get a replacement tag from the manufacturer, but added that it's little consolation for the lost data. 
9 From left: Kevin Kenow and Steve Houdek collect a blood sample from a captured juvenile loon. The research team captured the male and juvenile loons from the same family Wednesday night, then scooped up the female later that night. 
10 A captured juvenile loon squirms as blood is drawn from its leg. 
11 Luke Fara, a USGS biological science technician, marks a blood sample. With the blood data, the research team hopes to learn more about how environmental toxins are affecting the birds. 
12 A little more than an hour after they were captured, the loons were released. Here, Steve Houdek releases the adult male loon back onto the same area of South Turtle Lake. 
13 Shortly after, Steve Houdek released the juvenile into the same area of the lake. 
14 The newly released male loon swims away from the research boat. By now, it's after midnight and the researchers have two more lakes to visit before sunrise.