In Tonga, pigs fish but don't fly – yet.
Feral pigs in the South Pacific nation wade offshore to catch fish, crabs, and mussels.
TALAFO'OU, TONGA — Travelers who think they have seen it all should head to the island kingdom of Tonga for one of the Pacific's strangest tourist attractions: "fishing pigs."
Hogs on the archipelago's main island, Tongatapu, have conquered their fear of the ocean and now forage at low tide for crabs, mussels, seaweed, and fish marooned in rock pools.
While piglets snuffle around a few yards from the beach, fully grown porkers wade into the turquoise sea up to their waists.
The porcine pioneers are descendants of animals introduced here by European explorers such as Captain James Cook, who dubbed Tonga the Friendly Islands when he landed in the 1770s. In the region, feral pigs are still known as "Captain Cookers" and pork is a favorite dish.
The fishing razorbacks are a must-see attraction for the growing number of tourists being lured to Tonga by recently introduced cheaper and more regular flights from Australia and New Zealand.
In the coastal village of Talafo'ou, what looks like a miniature hippo is half-submerged in the sea, 100 yards from the beach. In fact it is a huge black sow, that bears closer resemblance to a wild boar than any farm breed, rooting around the reef.
Although the pigs don't swim, they do plunge their heads beneath the water for a few minutes at a time. "It's almost unbelievable," said Alan Batey, a British businessman on holiday with his family from their home in Melbourne, Australia. "To see pigs paddling around so far out to sea is bizarre."
The pigs venture out onto the reef along Tongatapu's coastline. "They go out at low tide every day," says tour guide Joe Naeata. "Perhaps one of the braver pigs went into the sea one day and the rest just followed."
Locals prize the pigs for their unusual tasting meat. "It's saltier than normal," says Mr Naeata. "It's more expensive than normal pork but people are prepared to pay the extra money."