Saturday, October 2, 2010

Fishing for Palolo-the sperm that is a delicacy

“On the seventh day after the full moon, the palolo reef worm emerges from the coral reef to mate.” (From Lonely Planet Samoan Islands) The color of it is blueish-green, and is considered a delicacy in Samoa. When I arrived in Samoa last year I heard all about it from now former volunteers. People who go out that night to catch them usually make a fortune from their findings. I wanted to experience it for myself.
When my brother said he was going on Thursday night, I knew I had to be a part of it.
We awoke at 3:30 AM, gathered nets, buckets and flashlights. We then headed over towards the malae and hung out on the cricket field to listen to the tides roll in and out. We must have laid out on the slab of concrete for about an hour. The tide was right, we began to head towards the ocean.
We walked between houses until we got to the path. Over tree branches and around rocks, we arrived at the steps that lead to the water. We then turned left, onto a path I have never traveled before. I stumbled as I walked through the dark, wishing I brought my flashlight too. We jumped over some slippery boulders, and were right next to the Pacific. It was low tide. We all just sat on the rocks watching the water, waiting for something to happen.
Suddenly people began to show up. We saw flashlights heading towards the water of the next village. Then someone went in the water. I just saw a flashlight bobbing around the water. Our flashlight went in and scanned the water. This process was repeated about every 5-10 minutes.
It was a beautiful night. I loved just sitting there in the nice chill of the night watching all the flashlights bob around from all different directions.
Two more people went in, one was from our village and was yelling funny things along with updates.
Hours had passed. We had seen nothing.
The sky was beginning to change colors, the sun was rising. There were no palolo. We had gotten the day wrong. They were to emerge the following morning.
We headed home in the dark, and I got ready for school.
Today, I was going to head over to the ocean to see if they were there, but I was too exhausted. I missed it. The one day a year that people fish for this, and I missed it. I guess there is always next year, and hopefully someone invites me over to try it.

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