It is rare to see that the legendary and respective “fish,”—according to the Samoan people—is not arriving as it used to be in the Pacific Islands. With changing climates, it appears that the illustrious caviar delicacy of the Pacific is reaching its peak of extinction so sudden.
Palolo, in other words, is practically known as a fish among channels of communication, but its scientific name is a coral reef sperm or worm. A worm produced in the ocean around the months of October and November. This edible sea-living creature has an interesting taste to the Samoan people. People claim palolo as a delightful main dish from the ocean, similar to a pork for them on land.
During the month of October, the worm’s merry anticipation by the Samoan people is a bit similar to other country’s fiestas. People prepare ahead wearing clean clothing, fresh plumeria or moso’oi necklaces with buckets, mosquito nets, white sheets, flashlights, a warm pot of tea and lots of patience – as Palolo is scooped out of the ocean around late hours of the night.
Preceding the wait, elders customarily have mythical lingos about Palolo when that time of year draws nigh. They gracefully sing songs about the pungent smell of coral reefs ovulating, and the sea rising. The new smell prying in the air is believed to be a sign of Palolo reaching its climax and will soon be reeling into shore like turtles swimming to land to lay eggs.
When the Palolo reel in, it’s a blessing for the Samoan people, especially for Samoans identified as “mata ai” or a seafood-binge eater. Our pleasant eateries are appetizing food for the population who have found comfort in our coastlines. This may seem too much for fishers to stomach, but the best way to enjoy Palolo is while scooping them out of the ocean, with a handful straight in the mouth.
Nowadays, coral reef worms are rarely coming as it used to be. It is alleged that global warming has taken its toll on our oceans. Coral reefs are dying, and it is deliberately facing extermination. 80% of global surveys indicated that human impacts are the leading cause of coral reef destruction— which caused warming sea-surface temperatures and expanding seawater acidification. Although there’s still palolo flowing into the islands—with a tiny percentage of coral reefs barely surviving—the growing waves which will generate a demise of the coral reefs unfortunately, and will affect 1 billion people across the globe.
Coral reefs are part of the ocean food chain. Nearly half the fish the world eats make their homes around them. If the reefs vanished, hunger, poverty and political instability could ensue. A world without coral reefs is unimaginable!