Palolo is the edible portion of a worm that lives in shallow coral reefs throughout the south central Pacific. Once or twice a year (in October or November) palolo swarm to the surface of the sea in great numbers. Samoans eagerly await this night and scoop up large amounts of this delicacy along the shoreline with hand nets.
This gift from the sea was traditionally greeted with necklaces made from the fragrant moso'oi flower and the night of the palolo remains a happy time of celebration. The rich taste of palolo is enjoyed raw or fried with butter, onions or eggs, or spread on toast.
Everyone seems to have their own methods for predicting when the best palolo rising will occur. Several natural clues that preceded the palolo rising enabled islanders to predict the correct timing for palolo swarming.
These included the flowering of the moso'oi tree, the closing of the palulu flower (a morning glory), a strong smell from the reef, brown foamy scum (from coral spawn) on the ocean, toxins occurring in reef fish, and abrupt weather changes or bad weather such as thunderstorms or lightning. Palolo usually appear here in October, sometimes in November or even during both months.