They've come to symbolize the anguish of the BP oil spill disaster. Oil-covered pelicans, bewildered and helpless, as rescuers desperately try to clean them up.
Oil-free and nursed back to health, they've just been released into the sparkling waters of a wildlife refuge.
"They started a new lease on life today," one rescuer said
The release is run like a military operation. Giant Coast Guard transport planes carry 62 pelicans from a rehab center in Louisiana to an airport in Texas.
The birds are then loaded into vans and taken to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge near Corpus Christi.
At the shore, the cages, each containing two birds, are carefully opened by fish and wildlife staffers and other helpers.
The birds flap their wings for a second, getting their bearings, then make the most of their new-found freedom in the pristine waters.
They're four hundred miles from the disaster and a world away from their previous condition.
"They get a second chance at life and a new place to live. It's a good place for them," a second rescuer said.