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Second palolo rising may occur this weekend

If there’s going to be a second palolo rising this year, it will most likely occur this weekend, during the late hours of Saturday night and early Sunday morning. This is according to Yvonne Mika of the Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources (DMWR) in a telephone interview with Samoa News yesterday afternoon.


The possibility of a second palolo rising has resulted in excited locals preparing themselves for the quest by getting the flashlights, mosquito netting (cheese cloths), and buckets set and ready to go.


The general consensus is — palolo will rise every year either in October or November, sometimes during both months. However, if the palolo swarm is strong in October, as was the case this year, then chances are: there will be no palolo in sight this month, or else it will be weak.


“But we never know for sure and there’s no way for us to accurately predict these things,” Mika said, adding the Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources will be out monitoring the territory’s oceans and shoreline this weekend to record a second rising of the local delicacy, if one occurs.


Last month, a majority of locals were able to savor the slimy sea worm after they either caught it themselves, or bought it off the streets for anywhere from $20-$30 for a pre-packaged fist-sized portion. Small boats and ‘alia were out and about, bringing in buckets upon buckets full of the once-a-year catch.


In an initial interview, Mika described last month’s palolo swarm as being “very good” based on the palolo survey DMWR conducted for Tutuila Island only.


According to statistics provided by Mika, last month an estimated 800-1,000 people were active during the palolo hunt along the shoreline, and the number includes local boats.


Based on reports from 60 people who were interviewed by DMWR, an estimated 461lbs. of palolo was collected last month, 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.


Manu’a Island residents reported a weak swarming of palolo on their end and some are predicting that Manu’a is where the palolo will be in abundance this weekend.


Over the years, locals usually get small plastic containers full of palolo shipped in from families and friends in Manu’a when the Tutuila palolo rise is weak.


Optimists are predicting that a second palolo rise will occur this weekend here in Tutuila, not Manu’a; but Mika said this is not definitive. “We will find out when the time comes.”


No palolo survey was conducted by DMWR last year because of the weak swarm. 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.”


Palolo is the edible part of a polychaete worm (Eunice viridis) that lives in shallow coral reefs in the south central Pacific area where it uses its sizable jaws to dig itself a burrow in the limestone substrate. Most of the year it lives quietly, feeding on algae and microorganisms, small crustaceans, and even its own young.