Publication Date

Fall 2022

Program Name

Samoa: Social and Environmental Change in Oceania


Palolo is a traditional delicacy of Samoa. It is the reproductive part of a marine worm that is released twice a year, October and November in Samoa, making palolo season a culturally significant time. Coral reefs, the palolo worm’s habitat, is under a plethora of environmental threats, which is an extremely prevalent concern for Pacific Islanders. Hundreds of palolo harvesters walking on corals twice a year adds extra pressure on coral reefs. Despite these vulnerabilities, prices of palolo are soaring year by year, while there is little to no research about the palolo worm and documentation of current harvesting practices and fishermen’s attitudes.

Some believe that the loss of traditional values lead to a lack of respect for the environment, but it seems to be a lack of awareness about the topic. This study is a document of the current societal pressures on the palolo worm and its coral reefs. The themes that stood out are: people opting out from traditional practices for convenience, a shift towards western paradigms over traditional knowledge and values, people being unaware of the harm they are doing by stepping on corals, people not being able to acquire tools that would prevent coral damage (eg. paopao, flashlights), and a preference towards buying over fishing, leading to higher demand with no increasing supply.


Environmental Health and Protection | Food Science | Food Studies | Human Ecology | Oceanography | Polynesian Studies


Article Location