The Bahamas is made up of roughly 700 islands scattered southeast of Florida and north of Cuba. One of those islands, Staniel Cay, is a sand-covered reef in the center of the Bahama’s Exuma island chain; it is one of the few Exuma islands with a permanent population. Staniel Cay is most notable for two things: one, part of the James Bond movie Thunderball was filmed there, and two, it is home to the Staniel Cay Yacht Club which serves as the nautical center of the immediate vicinity.
Which is the only way you’ll get to see the swimming pigs.
Nearby Staniel Cay is an uninhabited island called Big Majors Spot — uninhabited by people, that is. Living there are a bunch of feral cats and a few families of pigs, like the one pictured above. The pigs — being the voracious omnivores pigs are — will eat anything they can find. So when visitors come to the island and toss them apple cores and virtually anything else, the pigs feast.
But these pigs are a bit impatient. Over the years, they and their offspring have learned that the sound of motorboats means that there’s food to be had, so the pigs take the initiative — and take to sea. As seen in this video, they’ll swim right up to the boat, doggy paddling away, in hopes of obtaining a tasty morsel or two.
How did pigs get to a small tropical island far from the mainland? We don’t know. One account suggests three possibilities: the pigs ended up there after a shipwreck; farmers came to Big Majors Spot and abandoned their pigs there; and perhaps, residents of Staniel Cay and other inhabited islands put the pigs there as a somewhat underhanded way to fatten the pigs up, on the cheap, before they are eaten.
In support of that final theory, the linked-to correspondent notes that these swimming pigs are “a big hit on the menu for celebrations at nearby Staniel Cay.”
Bonus fact: According to Current TV, farmers in Bhutan have been known to feed marijuana to pigs in order to get them to eat more, thereby fattening them up. (Caution: that link auto-plays a video.)
From the Archives: The Pig War: When the U.S. and the U.K. almost went to war over the death of a (non-swimming) pig.
Related: Bacon-flavored dental floss.