DUPONT, Wash. The crew aboard a Nisqually Tribal research vessel pulled up a net from 400 feet down in Puget Sound.

We want to take a look at the plankton, said Tribal field Crew Supervisor Nano Perez.

For the first time, tribes, agencies and groups in Canada are giving plankton a serious look as part of the massive Salish Sea Marine Survival Project.

Phytoplankton is the plant form of plankton; zooplankton are the tiny animals that eat phytoplankton.

The concern is the balance and supply of plankton could be off and that could be a possible factor in the mysterious die off of young salmon when they enter Puget Sound from their native rivers.

Salmon eat plankton and so do the smaller fish that salmon also eat.

The samples look like green slime on the nets, but when the plankton is flushed into small sample jars you can see they are teaming with life. The tiny zooplankton can be seen darting around the jar.

The samples will be taken to labs and analyzed. If there turns out to be a problem, then scientists can start looking for why it s happening.

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