The palolo worm or Samoan palolo worm (Palola viridis) is a Polychaeta species from the waters of the Pacific islands around Samoa.
Reproduction involves mass spawning at night in spring or early summer (October - November in the Southern Hemisphere). The terminal parts of their bodies drop off and float over the surface of the water, releasing sperm and eggs. The mechanisms or triggers which induce spawning such that it occurs during nights of a waning moon, continuing for several nights, are not completely known.
It is sometimes synonymous with Palola siciliensis.
Indigenous populations in various parts of the Pacific – including Vanuatu and Samoa – use the reproductive portion of the palolo worm as a food source. During their short lived annual appearance in the last quarter of the moon in October and November, worms are enthusiastically gathered with a net, and are either eaten raw or cooked in several different manners.
In Indonesia, a traditional event called the Nyale Festival is held between February and March in the Indonesian island of Lombok. The event focuses on catching these worms as bait and as a delicacy for the locals.
- World Conservation Monitoring Centre 1996. Eunice viridis. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 5 August 2007.
- Codrington, Robert (1891). The Melanesians: Studies in their Anthropology and Folk-Lore. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
- Mondragón, Carlos (June 2004). "Of Winds, Worms and Mana: The Traditional Calendar of the Torres Islands, Vanuatu". Oceania. 74 (4): 289–308. JSTOR 40332069.