The Skokomish Tribe is studying the diet of juvenile salmon that have taken up residence in the nearly 400-acres of newly restored Skokomish tidelands in southern Hood Canal.

After gently flushing out the stomachs of a small sampling of juvenile salmon with a water pick, the microscopic contents, including algae and bugs, are collected and sent off to a lab for analysis.

The stomach contents of a small sampling of juvenile salmon from the Skokomish estuary are being collected and analyzed during 2012.

“The invertebrate community is likely to change as the restoration areas develop and we are seeing how that affects the salmon diet over time,” said Matt Kowalski, the tribe’s salmon biologist. “We want to find out what types of insects the salmon are eating and in what proportions.”

By regularly collecting data year round from 52 different spots throughout the tidelands, the tribe will get a good idea of what salmon species are using which parts of the tidelands and what they are eating.

“The numbers are slowly progressing like they should in the areas that were restored during the first phase of restoration in 2007,” Kowalski said. “Chinook and chum have been found at just about every site, which is what we expected.”

Most of the area was diked for decades when it was used for agriculture and hunting. Since 2007, the tribe has been removing dikes and restoring historic estuary channels that haven’t been filled with saltwater for years.