Last Sunday morning’s routine was a little bit different from the norm for many Samoans.
Instead of waking up early to do the umu, people woke up as early as 3am to pack their home made nets of mosquitoes netting or cheesecloth and wade into the sea in hope to catch palolo. Some launched boats to scoop up the seaworms in deeper water.
The palolo rising on Sunday was reportedly moderate in most villages, where the delicacy is collected twice a year.
Perite Solimalo Aumagamanaia and Tapito Sanerivi from Faletagaloa Safune Savaii told the Samoa Observer that they didn’t sleep on Saturday night.
“We stayed up all night on Saturday waiting for the time to go out and fish for palolo,” said Perite.
“The weather was nice and it was just perfect. We prepared everything and we sailed out to the sea around 4:45am.”
Perite said they were able to get a lot of palolo this year compared to last year.
“We expected more though, but compared to last year, I think we caught more palolo this year compared to last year.”
“There were a lot of people out there fishing for palolo because a lot of people look forward to this time of the year. I really don’t eat palolo, but I was happy to go out there and get some for my family.”
Moreover, Perite said he has no plans of selling the palolo like the others.
“Like I said before, it’s not like we get palolo every day. Therefore, it’s better not to sell it, but rather save it for our family and give some to our relatives who weren’t able to catch any.”
Tapito Sanerivi on the other hand said their to’ona’i or Sunday meal was like a thanksgiving feast, Samoan style.
“We fried palolo in oil and baked into a loaf with coconut milk and onions. And we also had palolo on toast, it was quite a delicacy,” he said.
“We always look forward to this time of the year and we are grateful that we were able to get more palolo this year compared to last year.”
In Apia, as expected, the Savalalo market was a popular place for palolo hunters who didn’t make the trip to catch the fish.
Samoa Observer caught up with one of the vendors selling palolo at the Savalalo market.
Karameli Nansen from Sataoa said the palolo this year was weak compared to the other years.
“We caught some but it wasn’t a lot,” she said.
“It’s 9:30am and I only have three bundles left. The other lady who was also selling Palolo has left already.”
Mrs. Nansen was selling her palolo at $50 a bundle but was also offering a discount of $30 each.
“There were only two of us here selling palolo at the market,” said Mrs. Nansen.
“My husband was the one who went to catch palolo at Sataoa and it was weak. There were quite a few people who came here this morning looking for palolo.
“I brought in six bundles of palolo and I have three left.
“There were quite a few people who came here looking for palolo, and it was selling so fast.”