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Images: Scientists Investigate Mysterious Duck Die-offs

Dead eider ducks litter the beach into the distance. The large sea ducks have suffered repeated mortalities on Cape Cod in the last few years, and researchers from several organizations are working to find the causes. (Photo by Jim Canavan, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

WHOI biologist Michael Moore and research assistant Andrea Bogomolni select an eider duck to examine during one of the duck die-offs on Cape Cod. (Photo by Jim Canavan, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Seabird ecologist Julie Ellis spends much of her time studying birds and bringing together citizens and scientists to improve the condition and prospects of marine bird species. Ellis is the coordinator of SEANET, the Seabird Ecological Assessment Network, at the Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. (Photo courtesy of Julie Ellis, SEANET)

WHOI biologist Michael Moore collects ducks to bring back to the lab for a full necropsy to help determine the causes for several eider duck die-offs that have occurred since 2006 on Cape Cod. (Photo by Jim Canavan, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

WHOI biologists Andrea Bogomolni and Michael Moore work together to take samples from an eider duck right on the beach, hoping the rapid sampling can provide clues to the mysterious deaths. (Photo by Jim Canavan, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

At the end of this collecting trip, Bogomolni carefully packs samples taken from dead and dying eider ducks, which will be sent to laboratories to be analyzed for toxins or infectious organisms. (Photo by Jim Canavan, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

A trio of healthy eider ducks. (Photo by Jim Canavan, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Cape Cod, Mass., is on the Atlantic flyway for migrating birds, and indicated are areas where eider ducks frequently congregate. (Map image courtesy of NASA)