October yields good palolo catch on Tutuila says DMWR
A week ago Friday night, Oct. 25, hundreds of people were at the beach awaiting the arrival of the famous local delicacy - palolo. Joining the palolo hunters were employees of the Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources (DMWR) who monitored the palolo spawning along the coastline from Amanave to Tula and the Fagatogo marina dock, well into the early morning hours of Saturday, Oct. 26.
Palolo is the edible part of a polychaete worm (Eunice viridis) that lives in shallow coral reefs in the South Central Pacific area.
By 11p.m. last Friday night, swarms of people were already standing by with flashlights, buckets, and cheesecloths (mosquito netting), ready to scoop up the slimy sea worm that only rises for a few hours — if that — in October and/or November each year.
Sightings of the palolo were reported around 1a.m. last Saturday morning and while some people went home with less than a bucket-full of palolo, those who own ‘alia boats and small crafts were able to score big, sailing out to the deeper part of the ocean and bringing back buckets full of palolo.
Last Saturday, while local residents were out and about running errands, Samoa News witnessed several “Palolo for Sale” signs across the island, with vendors selling ofu palolo (fist-sized serving wrapped in aluminum foil) for anywhere between $20-$30.
There was even a palolo stand directly across the street from Tisa’s Barefoot Bar in Alega where the Tattoo Fest was taking place.
Off-island visitors were seen purchasing palolo on the roadside, curious to taste and find out what all the rave is about. Even youngsters as young as seven years old were excited to talk about their palolo quest and how much they enjoy eating the worms when it is scrambled with eggs and placed on a hot piece of toast. The older folks, however, prefer to eat the palolo raw or lightly sauteed in butter with onions.
DMWR officials have confirmed that there was no palolo survey conducted last year. The palolo rise in 2012 was weak, with some villages reporting no palolo sightings at all, in both October and November.
This year was different though. The abundance of palolo catch in October has caused some people to predict that there will be no palolo rise this month. When contacted for comments, DMWR’s Yvonne Mika explained that this year’s palolo rise was “very good” and added that sometimes, people believe that if the swarm is strong in October, there will be no palolo in November.
Nonetheless, she said, DMWR will still be out conducting a palolo survey later this month, when some are predicting a second palolo rise for this year.
Mika explained that the purpose of the palolo survey “is to collect data on the relative harvest of the palolo spawning in volume.” She added, “this information will assist DMWR’s long term monitoring of fisheries and the palolo trends through the years.”
The report is based on information collected on Tutuila Island only.
According to Mika, an estimated 800-1,000 people took part in the palolo hunt last Friday along the shoreline, and the number includes local boats.
She said that based on reports from 60 people who were interviewed, an estimated 461lbs of palolo was collected last weekend, which averages out to about 7.7lbs. of palolo catch per person. Of course, this is based solely on the answers collected from the 60 people who were interviewed.
As far as the Manu’a Islands, where locals usually get shipments of palolo when the local palolo rise is weak, Mika said that some people in Manu’a reported catching palolo, but not that much.
Optimists are predicting that another palolo rise will occur before the end of this month, but Mika said this is not definitive.
We will find out when the time comes.
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