Zooplankton, tiny marine crustaceans, are a critical link between primary producers, or plants and algae that trap energy from the sun, and larger species like fish, mammals and birds. Many of the most important species in Puget Sound rely upon zooplankton, including salmon, forage fish like herring, surf perch, and sand lance, hake, Pollock, and shrimp. Yet, no comprehensive zooplankton monitoring program exists in Puget Sound. Each Puget Sound basin has its own unique zooplankton and bacteria community. Copepods are typically the most dominant zooplankton type in Puget Sound.
The marine habitat of Puget Sound can be divided up into nearshore, benthic (associated with the sea floor), and pelagic (open water) habitats. This article focuses on the pelagic habitat within the Puget Sound. This article was prepared as part of the 2015 Puget Sound Fact Book produced by the University of Washington Puget Sound Institute.
The health of an ecosystem is tied closely to the health of its food webs. This article provides an overview of the concept, origin, and characteristics of a food web and how predator and prey relationships are shaped in the Salish Sea.
Scientists say Puget Sound’s salmon are dying young and point to low growth rates in the marine environment as a possible cause. In part one of this two-part series, scientists consider threats facing young salmon in the open waters of Puget Sound.