Jeff Smallwood Photography
Welcome to Pig Island
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Dec 23, 2011
Greetings human, welcome to my topical paradise.
Click photo to view larger.

Nestled between Fowl Cay and Staniel Cay in the Exuma Islands, Bahamas, lies the spot we've affectionately named "Pig Island". Years ago (I never found out exactly when) someone released pigs on the island which measures only about 1.5 km in size. The pigs have multiplied and survived over the years and are now quite the local attraction.

Here's a Google map showing the location of the Pig Island beach and Thunderball Grotto.


View Bahamas Trip in a larger map


The spot is very easy to get to from Staniel Cay Yacht Club and is right around the bend from the famous Thunderball Grotto cave where scenes from a few notable movies have been filmed. Those movies include two 007 James Bond films, Thunderball (1965) and Never Say Never Again (1983), both staring Sean Connery, and the 1984 Ron Howard film Splash, starring Tom Hanks. We were able to explore the cave from both the water side (snorkeling) and the land side via the holes in the top of the island. My brother even convinced me to jump through the small hole in the rocks and plunge the ~30 feet through the cave into the water. It's great to have someone "push" you to do things you might not do every once in a while.

This isn't a video of my brother and I, but this will show you what it is like to jump into the cave from the top of the island. I'm so glad he convinced me to do this.

 

My sister-in-law and trying to beach the boat

Anyway, back to the vacation swine. All you need to do is bring some food scraps and aim your boat toward the beach. Before we left we inquired at the Yacht club and the kitchen was more than happy to provide us a bag of scraps to take for the pigs. We combined that with some old bread and leftover french toast we'd saved and headed out on our 13' Boston Whalers.  A few hundred meters from shore there were no pigs to be seen but they must have heard us (and smelled our food). Once we got about 100m from the shore two big ones came trotting out from the trees and brush. Not only did they come trotting out, they came swimming right out into the water.

My brother and sister-in-law trying to beach their boat
but the pigs were excited and wanted our food!

The largest female was a touch aggressive in trying to get the food scraps we brought. Before we could beach our boat she was already trying to climb in. She had me a little concerned she might actually make it over the gunwale and into the boat. I guess she could smell the smörgåsbord of lettuce, tomatoes, old bread, and onions we had on board.

The pink female, waiting to see if I have more food.
I didn't, I only had my camera.

 

My dad, dropping food in the water for the pigs


There were only the two large females on the beach for the first 10 minutes or so, then a smaller male trotted out from the bushes. The male was much more timid than the other two females but he still got close enough to take food from us a few times.

The smaller male that joined the party
a little later than the others.

Once the food was gone the pigs knew it. I guess years of being trained to smell what you've got (and what you don't) have given them the ability to know when it's time to leave. It wasn't but a couple minutes after picking through the last scraps left on the sand that they started to calm down and leave us alone.

My brother, posing with the largest one on the beach
right before she tried to nibble on him.

We spent the better part of half an hour on the beach with them. My brother and his wife had been to the same spot a few years earlier and said they had seen more than three pigs before. But I guess with an island that size there could be plenty of them hiding in the trees further away. Their loss because our scraps were top notch :)

Another closeup of the fearless and aggressive one.

Another theory as to why we didn't see more pigs on the beach was boosted by what we found at the edge of the beach by the trees: a shotgun shell.

Maybe that explains why bacon wasn't very expensive down there :)

Bakin'/bacon in the late afternoon sun.
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