Thanks to one of the only ads on a website that I've ever clicked, I found this great article
in the Christian Science Monitor
from September 2006 entitled "In Tonga, Pigs Fish But Don't Fly." According to the research of Nick Squire, pigs on the archipelago's main island, Tongatapu, have taken to foraging at low tide for stranded fish, clams, mussels, etc. (see picture at right). Apparently these fishing hogs, some of which wade fairly far out into the ocean, have become a tourist attraction; Squire's article quotes Alan Batey, a vacationing British businessman as noting:
"It's almost unbelievable. To see pigs paddling around so far out to sea is bizarre." I don't find it that much of a stretch, really. Pigs are smart and curious and courageous, so as Joe Naeata, a local tour guide observed, "Perhaps one of the braver pigs went into the sea one day and the rest just followed."
By the way, there's a great aside in the article about the history of pigs in Tonga, which are supposedly all the descendants of pigs brought over by Captain James Cook. While I'm inherently skeptical about single origin stories (even more so in the U.S., where it's clearly not likely that all pigs are descended from those brought to Tampa Bay by Hernando de Soto in 1539), I'm intrigued by the idea that local Tongans call pigs "Captain Cookers."
Labels: pig behavior, pig diaspora, Tonga