One tourist sideshow in the Exumas is in the appropriately named Bay of Pigs, a postcard-perfect anchorage on the lee side of Big Majors Spot. Legend has it, a couple from nearby Staniel Cay delivered a pair of pigs to this loosely vegetated shoreline, and the Adam and Eve of Bahamian swine did not disappoint. The family has grown.
“Oh my god, you can swim with pigs!” my envious family said to me as I boarded my flight to Nassau. Not normally a fan of farm animals, I, too, was excited, for these weren’t pigs rollicking in mud—or, you know, shit. They were sunbathers, swimming in turquoise water and feeding on scraps from the hands of countless visitors. Harmless fun, I thought.
So, when we dropped anchor from our Moorings 51 powercat and my colleagues grabbed their gear and a bowl of leftovers saved for this exact purpose, I joined them eagerly as we set out for shallow water. Moving at a slow putter towards the shore, I became increasingly alarmed by the enormity of some of the residents, however. Upon reaching the beach we were met by the largest of its inhabitants, who looked like she could eat our entire bowl of scraps, plus our landing party, and quite possibly the inflatable.
Undaunted by her size, shipmate and dinghy captain Peter Swanson opened the Tupperware container, and that’s when the party started. The sow took everything tossed her way, and when the feeding didn’t come fast enough, she stood on her hind legs and set her front hooves on top of our dinghy’s portside tube—snout raised, mouth agape—with a (perhaps not so shocking) lack of manners. And if her size and demeanor weren’t concerning enough, the downright panic-inducing part was that she looked keen on boarding our dinghy from the water (which is hard enough to do with human limbs, but something told me she’d have no problem making the climb).
Taking the selfish route, I reasoned that since I had no food, she wouldn’t be interested in me. I jumped ship. But our new friend sniffed out the coward, and set after me. Immediately realizing my mistake, I started to run in the waist-deep water. But the pig had a head start and a goal in mind. Just when I thought I was in the clear, I felt a pigsized chomp on the starboard side of my derrière, eliciting from me a squeal not unlike the sound a pig would make, just not the joyful kind.
In the bar at Staniel Cay that night—massaging my wound and opting off of the barstool—we learned from locals that this pig has a name: Big Momma. And worse yet, there was once a sign up on the beach warning visitors to be wary of the serial biter. Moral of the story? You reap what you sow.
n > More to come: There’s much more to the Exumas than biting pigs, so stay tuned for my upcoming feature story on Bahamian island hopping.