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Get your gear and head to the ocean - it's palolo time in Am Samoa!

Palolo hunting in American Samoa. [photo: Sea]

It's that time of year again. Time to break out the homemade nets, a flashlight, and a plastic container to scoop up the delicacy that is only found in this part of the world, during this time of year: PALOLO!

According to the Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources (DMWR), the palolo rising usually occurs around the 3rd quarter moon in October and /or November, or seven days after the full moon.

That means the annual palolo rising/ swarming will occur tonight and November 11th.

Two nights ago, some residents in the east side reported a strong 'smell' coming from the ocean, usually an indicator that the palolo rise is imminent. However, Samoa News confirmed that no palolo was seen or collected.

Last year, a large amount of palolo was caught in the deep end of the ocean by 'alia operators, but not too much was collected by those scooping near the shoreline.

Palolo is considered a delicacy in the territory, with people paying between $25-$45 for an "ofu" or fist-sized portion of the worms that are sold either on the street or through word of mouth.

How the palolo is cooked is a matter of personal preference. Some like it raw with cooked 'ulu, taro or banana, some prefer to fry it with onions, while others scramble them with eggs and serve it on a piece of toast — lots of butter is involved.

DMWR's creel manager, Tepora Toliniu-Lavata'i told Samoa News yesterday that the predictions of the palolo rise are a 'hit-and-miss game' and "we never know if there will be palolo or not."

She said their team went out last night, and will be out again tonight and tomorrow night to monitor the seas and collect information for data purposes.

"How long did it take for a person to collect a bucket full of palolo?" "How much palolo did they collect in that amount of time?" "These are the questions we ask so we can keep a record of the annual spawning," said Toliniu-Lavata'i, who added that they weigh whatever is caught and then return it to the owners.

"Some people think we are out there to take their catch but in reality, we just want to weigh the contents and ask questions for data purposes," she continued. "Although the palolo is predicted to rise tonight, we want to be there the day before and the day after, just to make sure we don't miss anything."

Some recommended areas to go palolo hunting, according to some local fishermen, include the end of the airport strip near Lions Park, and along the shoreline in the far East villages of Amaua and Auto. According to some, a good amount of palolo was collected near the Masefau area last year.