The “Pig” of the Indian River Lagoon, SLR/IRL


Photo of sow along IRL, by John Whiticar, 2015.
Photo of happy, prancing, sow along IRL, by John Whiticar, 2015.
John Whiticar, sow looking forward, IRL 2015.
John Whiticar, sow looking forward, IRL 2015.
A beautiful photo of the sow enjoying the sunrise along the IRL. John Whiticar, 2015.
A beautiful photo of the sow enjoying the sunrise along the IRL. John Whiticar, 2015.

I have a soft spot for pigs, or any animal related to a “pig.” Pigs, you may remember, sat upright at the table in George Orwell’s classic novel ANIMAL FARM; they became like humans…

For me, pigs are part of my family history as my grandfather Henderson won a scholarship to the University of Florida for his famous 1926 pig “Charlotte.” This launched a very successful career for him as an agriculture man at the University of Florida.  My grandfather’s brother, my uncle, became a wealthy “pig-farmer” in Madison, Florida. I loved visiting there as a kid! The most fun ever! When my family arrived, Uncle Gordy would run out into the fields almost before saying “hello,” and bring back piglets for my brother, sister and I. They were adorable coming in all different colors and patterns. Their small noses scrunching, we were allowed to hold them, and later return the piglets to an irritated, snorting mother. At the time, I didn’t think much about their fate of “becoming bacon….”

My grandfather, Russell Henderson Sr. who became famous as a young man in the state of Florida for his breeding of the best pigs. He received a scholarship for his work and has a long career at UF in soil science and headed IFAS.
My grandfather, Russell Henderson Sr. at 17, in 1926, Madison, Florida. My grandfather became “famous” as a young man in the state of Florida for his breeding of the best pigs. He received a scholarship for his work and had a long career at UF in soil science and worked for the IFAS Extension Office in Gainesville.

As I got older, I realized that often pigs get a “bad wrap”as they are “dirty.” Again, just like humans….They are also very smart, just like humans too. I read somewhere that they are smarter than dogs. Maybe that’s why George Orwell chose them to take over Manor Farm.

Anyway, I have been wanting to write a post on pigs, or wild boars, (males) or sows, (females) since I recently saw marina owner and photographer John Whiticar’s photos of a wild sow he photographed along the Indian River Lagoon.

What great shots and thank you John for allowing me to share! I have seen sows with their piglets on Savanna Road in Jensen at night foraging.  I have also seen wild pigs more recently at Billy’s Swamp Safari in Big Cypress. Here a baby pig got separated from its mother and fellow piglets and it followed the mother’s scent very far zig-zagging perhaps a quart mile to find her. And he did! We followed and all clapped when the family was reunited.

“Wild pigs” were brought to Florida by the Spanish in the 1500s, and today they wreak destruction on the environment, just like humans. We have so much in common! It’s amazing! Seriously though, for me, they are one of God’s creatures, and should be treated humanely as all animals. Popular since the early days of Florida, they appear on many of my mother and father’s historic postcards below.

It you see a sow or a boar, know that you are staring Florida history right in the face, and that some might say that we are even “related.” Also remember, like George Orwell’s satire states, unfortunately: ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL, BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS…. 🙂

Historic post card, courtesy of Thurlow Collection.
Historic post card, courtesy of Thurlow Collection.
Postcard back 1914.
Postcard back 1914.
Another historic post card with a wild pig or sow. (Thurlow Collection)
Another historic post card with a wild pig. (Thurlow Collection)
Back of postcard reads 1912.
Back of postcard reads 1912.
Historic post card, Thurlow Collection.
Historic post card, wild boar, Thurlow Collection.


University of Florida. Hogs in Florida, Ecology and Management: (

Animal Farm, a novel by George Orwell, 1946: (

16 thoughts on “The “Pig” of the Indian River Lagoon, SLR/IRL

  1. When all creatures(includeiing pigs) are babys the first thing they crave is calcium. Mamels get it in the form of milk from their mother. Baby ducks are hatching out all over our lagoon They are all eating the algie that grows on sea walls and rocks where I have put my CALCIUM sand. Most fishermen will say how is this going to benefit fishing and the answer is simple. When the ducks poop and pee it will all wash to shore in violent storms.The ammonia and Hydrocloric acid will churn violently with salt and shells forming calcium chloride —calcium peroxide and hydrogen peroxide completeing the cycle that sustains all the life in the lagoon. Last year I would put sand on rocks at port Canaveral and come back later to watch baby sea turles eating algie(containing calcium) they need for their bones and shells. Yes man can create havoc on the environment but they can also fix things—the question is will YOU be part of the problem or part of the solution.

    1. Great observations Brent. If you are asking me if I will share you calcium theory, I need to be able to explain as well as you do, which I cannot yet. This is why I gave you the name and number of Boyd Gunsalas at the SFWMD because I think he would be scientific enough to “get it.” Do you still have his number? I will work harder on being part of the solution….

  2. Perhaps if you did a blog on all the calcium that has been removed– The Indians removed mountains of calcium. The one at sebastion was over 50 foot high and this was not the only giant. They were all up and down the IRL. The evidence is overwhelming as to what killed the lagoon . The despirate need for calcium road material and cement. It is not complicated. Little kids can”get It” It wound be better if you gave me Boyds E-mal or asked him to read What I’ve been e-mailing you.

  3. SO happy to see you are a wild pig lover Jacqui!!..I rescued a tiny feral from some neighborhood kids that their dad killed its mom..big time hog hunter family..Im sure the tiny guy was gonna be used to train their pitt bulls..I pulled over when I saw them dragging it down the road on a tight rope..offered them 50 dollars for it..realizing as much as I wanted to I could not keep him so I called the local wildlife rehab..believe it or not the lady told me to take it outside and hit it in the head with a shovel!!!!!…really!..then I called the humane society and they told me they’d come over and euthanize it!!!..omg..this little guy was the sweetest little critter…so for a couple of weeks I was so distraught trying to find a good place for him…finally I found a girl that had just started a pig sanctuary…Swine Society…well..Gremlin is now a beautiful 3yr old smart..sweet..and gorgeous …Jessica..the girl who jhas the sanctuary takes him to places like raise funds..and also maybe get people to change their mean attitude towards wild pigs….thanks so much for your made my day!

  4. Cute, delicious, but undoubtably one of natures most destructive forces. Not only in Florida, but many other places in the world. Jay Potsdam

  5. Before moving to Florida some 30 years ago, I lived in Maine. I love many things about the state, especially the Down East dry sense of humor. There’s an expression up there that goes something like this. “Pigs get fat, hogs get eaten”.

  6. I sat in with a group at our lagoon house today.They were trying to make a go at commercial clams and oysters. I showed some my album and exsplained the history of how our lagoon went from one of the most productive ecosystem to what it is today. They seemed very interested.My mom has surgey tommarrow Im takeing her to the hospital and then home.The first page of my album tells what happened to the lagoon and everything in the album supports what is written on that first page. When I get a chance I will send it to you.

  7. In the book Animal Farm notice the comparison to the British waunting to be like the horrable farmers during the revolutionary war. Notice how the pigs manipulated and connived to whrere eventually all the animals on the farn had no say in things and had to summit to the brutality of their oppressor. Now look at how our government says we owe them 18 trillion dollars.Also how billions have been spent going to fix the lagoon when all it would take is calcium beach sand. A blind man can see where things are headed. Thanks for the blog Jaqui

Leave a Reply