I recently went on a scuba diving trip to the Bahamas on a liveaboard boat. One of our land excursions was to visit the world famous swimming pigs in Exuma Island.
We gathered in a smaller boat that took us right to the shore of Pig Island. As our boat approached the small island, pigs of all sizes were seen emerging from the shrubbery onto the shoreline towards our boat. There were several very small piglets and a couple humongous pigs as well.
Much to our surprise, they were not really “swimming” pigs. They venture into the water a little bit to get to you, but for the most part, they just stand in the shallow water.
How did the pigs get there?
The pigs are on Big Major Cay in Exuma Island of the Bahamas. The pigs are not native to the area. It is not really known for sure how they arrived at the uninhabited island. Some say they were left there by farmers, since there was fresh water on the island, with the intention of coming back to take them to the butcher. Others say they swam from a nearby wreck or another island. However they got there, they are now there to stay.
The pigs have suffered some deaths and were close to being lost all together on the small island, but a few new ones were introduced to keep them thriving. The animals are protected. Tourists can come in and only feed them certain foods. Unfortunately, the pigs now rely on human tourists to come in and feed them. However, some still forage a little bit through the island.
As we made our way down the boat ladder one by one, the pigs were approaching. If you wanted them to ignore you, you had to put your hands up in the air.
We waded in water waist deep waiting for them to come out to swim. Some of the pigs were not so inclined to do so, but a few made their way into the water and swam up to us.
If you were ready to feed them, you held the apple slice above their head. The pigs opened their mouths wide and the apple slices were dropped into their mouths. Caution was taken to avoid getting bit!
Many pigs swam all around and in between us, enjoying the apples. A sting ray even glided in the sand around us as we stood there carefully not to get stung.
The swimming pigs of Exuma Island are definitely unique. I hope they stay protected and that the tourism to see them does not get out of hand.