While the swimming pigs of Abaco at No Name Cay are enjoying increasing fame and receiving the attention of more and more visitors throughout the year a Green Turtle Cay native has taken up the cause of caring for the residents of Piggyville.
Craig Russell one of seven children of Earl and Eileen Russell – who ran the telephone station on the island for many years – said he felt compelled to look out for the pigs when he first saw them at the cay over five years ago.
“Five and a half years ago I was passing by No Name Cay and I noticed about five pigs on the beach an was curious as to why they were there,” he said.
He noticed that they appeared to be suffering from malnutrition so he decided to take it upon himself and started going twice a week (usually Wednesdays and Saturdays) taking them food and water.
“I started collecting from a few restaurants and grocery stores and later received donations to help by swine feed in Marsh Harbour at Price Right – this ensures they are getting the nutrition they need.” He said.
He said that the biggest challenge he faces is the water situation. “At that time, I was taking about 40 gallons of water emptying into containers at the cay,” he said. “The pigs would often knock over the water containers or wallow in them.”
Craig said thankfully that Sunset Marine assisted by putting in a 2000-gallon plastic tank for water storage on the cay and would fill it up once a week. “I still will carry about 25 gallons of water whenever I go,” he added.
He said that a few tourists started to come to see the swimming pigs a few years ago but now you will see dozens of people visiting almost every day; “it’s been really big this year especially.”
Tour guides in Abaco are also bringing tourists to No Name to see the pigs and Craig noted that “I wish the guide would get off the boat with the tourists and share information about the pigs and the cay. Teach them about the pigs, how they go there, what they like to eat; their favorite food is the coconut, but they also like apples and grapes and generally any fruit or vegetable.”
He added that they don’t like onions, lemons, limes and peppers and bread tends to ‘bind them up’.
“But the ideal food is the swine feed and I wish more people would use that as much as possible,” he said.
Craig said he would like to have a vet come to the island to see them. “They are all in pretty good health, but there are some issues with interbreeding, and occasionally I see one that may look a little malnourished and I will make sure he gets fed,” he said.
Pigs can have up to three litters a year and they can have nine or ten per litter and Craig has seen the pigs’ numbers increase to about forty over the years. It is hoped that they can get the males neutered to control the population.
In order to take pressure of persons bringing water to the island they are presently working on a rain catching system to help keep the tank full.
Craig enjoys taking care of the pigs and he says it is sometimes hard as he gets attached and unfortunately has had to bury a few. It is also challenging to get supplies back and forth as he only has a 14-foot Whaler.
“Most people treat them well, but sometimes people mistreat them. You don’t have to love them but at least respect them,” he said.
He gets donations from time to time to assist with the food and other supplies. He suggests that anyone visiting the pigs that it would be helpful if they could bring some water or food (pig feed, fruits or vegetables)
“They are the Abaco pigs not just Green Turtle Cay pigs,” he said.