What You Should Know About the Bahamas' Swimming Pigs

Insider Guides
by Carlo Alcos May 11, 2017
  • Located on an uninhabited island in the Exumas, Bahamas
  • Different theories and legends about how the pigs got there
  • Several pigs were found dead in early 2017
  • Autopsies found sand in the pigs’ digestive systems
  • Ingestion of sand likely due to tourists tossing food onto the beach
  • New laws coming into effect to protect the pig population

THE SWIMMING PIGS in the Bahamas can be found at Exuma’s Pig Beach. It’s an uninhabited island, and no one knows for certain how the pigs got there. One theory is that a group of sailors left them there with plans to return to cook them. Another is that they swam to the island from a shipwreck. According to The Today Show though, the pigs were brought over by a couple of farmers who were planning their survival during the Y2K scare (for those that don’t remember, it was thought that the changeover from 1999 to 2000 was going to cause a major system crash and the world would be plunged into the Dark Ages). In any case, they’ve become a big tourist attraction of the Bahamas. There are many boat tours — which often include other activities like swimming with sting rays and snorkeling — that take visitors to see the pigs.

The health of the pigs

Unfortunately, with the unchecked explosion in tourism, there have been some irresponsible visitors who have caused the pig population harm. A lot of tourists feed the pigs not only food, but some dole out alcohol. Some even attempt to ride the feral animals. Recently, a significant portion of the population (which has been at around 20) was found dead. Autopsies eventually revealed that the pigs died from ingesting sand, which cannot be digested. It’s believed that they ate the sand while picking up food from the beaches that tourists leave to feed them.

Be a responsible visitor

It should be noted that local tour operators are being vouched for by the Humane Society. They say the tour operators are respectful but there are also private boat owners who visit the island and can be more careless in their treatment of the pigs. While laws to protect the remaining population are being looked into, visitors can do their own part in ensuring the safety of the animals. First and foremost is to not feed the pigs. Until the relatively recent tourist influx, the pigs have been feeding themselves by foraging in the surrounding forests. And definitely, do not try to ride them!

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