Astronaut Scott Kelly lends voice to ‘Pigs of Paradise’, the film

 Set to premiere on Dec 1st in Nassau, full-length movie, based on the new book, tells the true story behind the global phenomenon

On March 27, 2015, astronaut Scott Kelly embarked on what came to be known as “The Year in Space”.

 Chronicled by Time Magazine, Kelly’s record-breaking expedition in the International Space Station was well-known for many reasons, and partly because the American explorer documented the experience so faithfully on social media.

Through his Twitter, Instagram and other channels, he took snaps of the Earth from space in all its remarkable, awe-inspiring beauty. But one sight, against all others, stood out to astronaut Scott Kelly – Exuma, “the most beautiful place from space”.

Little did Scott know that, thousands of miles below, he would soon join forces with fellow social media stars known as the swimming pigs.  

With his genuine love for The Bahamas, and in  particular the  islands of Exuma, Kelly has come on board to narrate a new, full-length film based on the bestselling book,  “Pigs of Paradise: The Story of the World-Famous Swimming Pigs”.

Set to  premiere on December 1st , as the closing film at the Bahamas International Film Festival, “Pigs of Paradise” will be the cherry on top for the creators of the original film, “When Pigs Swim”. 

“When we did the first film, back in 2014, we had no idea what a global phenomenon the swimming pigs would become,” said Peter Nicholson, the President of GIV Bahamas and Executive Producer of the new film.

“It was much shorter, only about 15 minutes, and made people curious about these animals. So far that video alone has been viewed by more than 2.2 million people. I think the new story is : how did they become so famous? This latest film will look to answer that question, while really delving into the origins of these animals and the impact they’ve had on the whole Bahamas. We thank Scott for taking part in this true labour of love.”

Charlie Smith, of Earthbeat Films, is returning as the director of this second film on the swimming pigs, with Jeff Todd, the Director of Communications at GIV Bahamas Inc., and author of the new book, serving as the screenwriter.

The production crew will be walking the red carpet on December 1st with two piglets in tow. Back in 2014, upon the release for the first film, piglets also walked the red carpet with Smith when it premiered at festivals in Florida, before screening at many other festivals throughout North America.

With the swimming pigs’ global popularity at an all-time high, this full-length feature is expected to make an event bigger splash.

Unlike in 2014, the swimming pigs are now a house-hold name. After appearances on television programs (The Bachelor, Today Show), magazines, newspapers, and countless viral posts on the Internet, these animals helped bring Exuma to the world. From The New York Times, to CNN, to FOX, to Travel & Leisure, to the Toronto Star, the pigs have been featured by most major media outlets in North America, along with many more in countries such as Germany, the UK and Australia.

It is not a stretch to consider the swimming pigs global celebrities.

Today, the swimming pigs are the top tourism attraction for the island and a major source of revenue for tour boat operators, taxi drivers, restaurants, hotels and everything in between. In fact, there are pig colonies on six islands in The Bahamas, including Exuma, Abaco, Eleuthera, Long Island, Grand Bahama and Nassau.

In the film, government figures, including Dionisio D’Aguilar, the Minister of Tourism, have estimated that the swimming pigs have generated untold millions to the Bahamian economy.

The film follows shortly after the North American release of the book, also named “Pigs of Paradise”, which has been covered by outlets such as CNN Travel and USA Today.  The book can be ordered online here and can be found in major book stores throughout the holiday season

“Pigs of Paradise”, the movie, is expected to continue along the film festival circuit in 2019, before finally being released on DVD and other platforms for the general public. For information on screenings and other news, you can visit the movie’s website at www.pigsofparadise.com

GIV Bahamas supports ‘dream expedition’ for shark scientists

 Beneath the Waves and partner Oceanic Global carry out first ever shark tagging mission in Southern Exumas to help preserve and better understand the ocean ecosystem

There are few animals on the planet more misunderstood than the shark.

From an early age, it is common to see these animals cast as menacing meat-eaters, and a threat to unsuspecting humans. But for Austin Gallagher, a biologist and conservationist, with a particular focus on sharks, he sees these animals not as a danger, but rather as a means to better understand our fragile ocean ecosystem. 

“Sharks are ecologically and economically important to our oceans, and to The Bahamas,” said Gallagher, who has published more than 60 peer-reviewed papers in leading scientific journals.

He is also the founder of Beneath the Waves, a non-profit focused on shark conservation, and participated in a Ted Talk in 2016.

“They keep marine ecosystems healthy and tourism flourishing. By tagging them with high-tech electronic tags and monitoring their health, we are shedding new light into the movements and behavior of these misunderstood yet threatened animals, which will provide information for the long-term survivability of the species in this country and a model for other countries to follow.”

This effort took a big step forward this month, when  Gallagher and his team were invited by GIV Bahamas Inc to Exuma and Grand Isle Resort to continue their research

Over the course of several days, researchers tagged and released 14 sharks (12 Caribbean Reef Sharks and two tiger sharks) and installed four acoustic receivers. 

This technology will monitor the tagged sharks for the next several years. Gallagher plans to return to Exuma in spring 2019 to download the receivers, install new ones and add more sharks to the project.

With more than a decade of dedicated shark research in six different countries, he called the recent trip to Exuma a true “dream expedition”. 

“Securing logistics, including accommodations and boat time, are often the most complex and costly parts of planning and executing a research expedition,” he explained, noting that his non-profit relies entirely on private donations to fund research.

“GIV Bahamas Inc. and Grand Isle Resort provided solutions to these challenges during our search shark expedition. Even more incredible were our findings and interactions with the sharks: it is proof that Exuma is a healthy marine ecosystem. Many beautiful sharks keep the oceans clean and balanced. These incredible animals keep the waters wild, beautiful and abundant.”

This expedition, he added, was the first of its kind in the southern Exumas.

The important work of Beneath the Waves is supported by Oceanic Global, an international advocate for the preservation of the seas. The organization seeks to broaden the audience for these issues by connecting with other advocates and influencers in a variety of industries such as the arts, music, fashion, hospitality, technology and more.

James Sternlicht, a board member and director of strategic development, said that in order to protect our world, we must first broaden our understanding.

“Sharks are majestic, mysterious and much maligned – and they are vital to the health of our oceans,” Sternlicht said.

“The research done here is the first of its kind in Great Exuma. And the data we gather over the coming months will allow us to further our understanding of these incredible creatures, so we can better protect them.”

Gallagher explained that The Bahamas project is ongoing over the next three to four years, with the overarching goal is creating a true shark sanctuary and ensuring the preservation of the ecosystem as a whole. Today, in addition to global warming and pollution, sharks are constantly under threat due to commercial fishing.

It is not every day that tourists view sharks as playing a role in the beauty of Exuma’s famously blue and pristine waters and coral reefs. Sharks are also a popular attraction and sight for tourists engaging in snorkeling, scuba diving and even the famous nurse sharks near Staniel Cay and Compass Cay, which guests of Grand Isle Resort often visit on excursions. 

“Every so often, I think it is important to take a step back and remember the environment we operate in,” said Peter Nicholson, the President of GIV Bahamas Inc. “I applaud the work of scientists like Dr. Gallagher. Their insights and vision will help ensure Exuma’s amazing natural environment is sustainable in the future.”

Exuma Marathon sells out

 Michelle Gibson and Shavaughn Blades, from Nassau, win the marquee Ultra Marathon, as the event receives high praise from director of New York Marathon 

George Town, Exuma — For the first time in its history, the Exuma Marathon was able to announce the two sweetest words for any event in The Bahamas: sold out. 

Nearly 250 runners from as far away as Holland and Ireland packed the starting line last Saturday in Exuma, all united in a race that has become a highly anticipated staple in the Bahamian tourism calendar. Not a single shirt or race number was left over, inspiring last-minute runners to simply jump into the crowd, just to participate.  

Young and old, tourist and Bahamian, swift runners and slow walkers all set off to pay homage to Pompey, the heroic slave who led a rebellion on the island almost 200 years ago. 

“This is a special event,” said Doug Flannery, the Senior Director of Operations of the TCS New York City Marathon, who flew in with a group just to experience it. 

“It has a distance for every level of fitness that will challenge even the most seasoned athletes. The community involvement and Exuma hospitality makes this a must-do destination race.

It’s a certainty that the event will again sell out in 2019. We are honored to participate alongside the Exuma Marathon team.”  

The New York City Marathon typically attracts around 50,000 runners, making it the largest of its kind in the world.

But it is exactly the community integration, cultural relevance and authenticity of Exuma Marathon that makes this event  special in the eyes of tourists. Before the race on Nov 10th, tourists like Flannery took in all the attractions of Exuma, including the now world-famous swimming pigs. Hotels, tour boat operators, taxi drivers and restaurants all benefited from the sold-out event. 

Once again, Pauline Davis-Thompson, the two-time Bahamian gold medalist, joined the race to drape a medal around each and every neck that crossed the finish line. 

“This is the only event I’ve been involved with where you get to dance at the finish, receive your medal from an Olympic gold medalist and enjoy the warmth of the Bahamian spirit at every turn,” said Lacie Flannery, Event Director at the Advocate health Care International Chicago 5K Race. “Add that to the bluest shades of ocean you’ve ever seen as a backdrop and you have an event that is truly paradise.” 

Exuma Marathon features races for all ages, with the most impressive being the Run for Pompey, a grueling 50K race. This year,  in striking solidarity, Michelle Gibson and Shavaughn Blades, from Nassau, crossed the finish line together with a time of 6:39:47. Elaine McAunulty, from Ireland, won the full marathon with a time of 5:55:14. 

Other races included a full marathon, half marathon, 10K, 5K, and 2K “George Town Dash”, making the event accessible for young children and older participants. At its core, Exuma Marathon focuses on community engagement and offering an integral, cultural experience for all. 

Last Saturday was the 4th installment. Exuma Marathon is completely non-profit, with proceeds from the race going towards the annual Pompey Scholarship, awarded to a student in Exuma each year so he or she can attend college or university. Most recently, Deyonte Ferguson from L N Coakley took home the prize, and she is now attending Holland College in Prince Edward Island in the east coast of Canada. 

“There is no doubt that this was our best year yet,” said Kevin Taylor, who founded the race with Jeff Todd, the Director of Communications for GIV Bahamas Inc. “I think the sky is the limit for Exuma Marathon. It is a community effort in every sense of the word, from our volunteers, to the nurses at the hospital, the police officers and countless others that help us put it together.” 

The race is supported by its four-time title sponsor BAF Financial & Insurance. 

Other sponsors include GIV Bahamas Inc., the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Aliv, Sands Beer, Caribbean Bottling Company, Grand Isle Resort, Peace & Plenty, The Swimming Pig, Catch A Fire, Ty’s Sunset Bar & Grill, Glinton, Sweeting O’Brien, BahamasLocal, Breezes, Cash N Go and Diane Phillips and Associates. 

Exuma Marathon also partnered with the  Bahamas Half, presented by Bahamas Roadmasters, which kicks off from Arawak Cay in Nassau on November 18th at 6am. 

The next Exuma Marathon is scheduled for November 9th, 2019. 

For more information about the event, you can contact Jeff Todd, Director of Communications at GIV Bahamas Inc., at jeffey.todd@wcpd.com 

 

When Pigs Swim™ eclipses 2M views

Production wraps up on new, film-length film, with sneak preview to be unveiled on Staniel Cay as part of book launch for ‘Pigs of Paradise: The Story of the World-Famous Swimming Pigs’

 When Pigs Swim™, the groundbreaking film that helped spark a tourism phenomenon, eclipsed more than two million unique views earlier this month, as filming begins to wrap up on a new, full-length sequel.

HI RES when pigs swim full poster

The film was first commissioned by Peter Nicholson, the President of GIV Bahamas Inc., in the early months of 2014. At the time, the swimming pigs, while known to some tourists, had not yet broken through as a mainstream attraction. Located on an isolated, inhabited island The Exumas, an archipelago of 365 islands and cays, the swimming pigs had splashed around in relative obscurity for decades.

That changed when Nicholson, along with his Director of Communications, Jeff Todd, hired director Charlie Smith to cast a spotlight on the attraction through a 15-minute feature film.

“Years before, I helped create a second colony of pigs near Emerald Bay, simply to make it more accessible to tourists not wishing to be out on the boat for an entire day,” Nicholson said, who is the largest owner at Grand Isle Resort.

“So even then there was an understanding the pigs had some popular appeal, but we had no idea it would blow up the way it did.”

The film premiered at the Bahamas International Film Festival in December 2014. From there, the rest is history. Media outlets started covering the pigs, Exuma and Grand Isle with regularity, from ABC’s The Bachelor (2016), to NBC’s Today Show (2016), to Angry Birds (2015), the popular mobile game franchise.   2018-01-09 11.53.18

Meanwhile, footage from When Pigs Swim™ was incorporated into countless publications and viral videos that went around the world, reaching millions worldwide. Droves of celebrities shot selfies of themselves on the island, followed by legions of their followers and fans.

Another major development was the participation of the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, which placed the film on their websites and promoted the attraction through global marketing campaigns. For the first time, hotels began advertising and featuring the swimming pigs as well, and soon, colonies began sprouting up on multiple islands, with other islands looking to cash in on the craze.

“None of this would have been possible with the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism,’ Todd added.

“They saw the potential immediately, And now, the swimming pigs have become synonymous with the destination, in many respects.”

Meanwhile, as the original When Pigs Swim™ begins its ascent to three million views,  a new film is in the works. With the title still to be announced, this movie, more than an hour long, will do a deep dive not only into the origins of the swimming pigs, but also their amazing ascent in popularity beginning in late 2014.

“I want this sequel to really tell the whole story,” said Smith, who was the host and founded Electric Air years ago in  Nassau.2018-01-09 11.51.04

Its debut this October will coincide with the release of the much-anticipated book Pigs of Paradise: The Story of the World-Famous Swimming Pigs, distributed by Skyhorse Publishing in New York. Author Jeff Todd (pen name T.R.Todd) will travel to Staniel Cay on August 31st for a book launch in collaboration with Impulse Yacht and Staniel Cay Yacht Club, where the first preview editions will be unveiled to guests.

Smith will also screen a 10-minte preview of the new movie. So while it might be hard to imagine, the swimming pigs may not have quite reached their peak in popularity. The best is yet to come.

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Jeff Todd, GIV Director of Communications and author of ‘Pigs of Paradise’

“The swimming pigs capture the imagination,” Todd said.

“It has really become more than an attraction. The book looks at these pigs as animals, in all of their cultural complexity. I truly believe it would not have caught on the way it did if it was an island full of chickens. What is it about the pig and those crystal clear waters? I think the swimming pigs present an opportunity to challenge how we think about pigs, but also animals in general, and how we think about them. It allows us to look at something in a completely new way.”

Canada and Bahamas unite at Fusion Gala

GIV Bahamas Inc. serves as sponsor for evening filled with food, music and friendship 

Canada and The Bahamas “mixed up like peas n rice”, as the Bahamian saying goes, at the Fusion Gala this month, an event that celebrated the special and long-standing relationship between the two nations. Seating chart

In particular, The Bahamas commemorated a milestone – 45 years since it achieved independence. GIV Bahamas Inc, comprised of real estate, hospitality, marketing and philanthropic interests, represented the “Exuma” table at the gala and served as an Emerald Sponsor.

“The Bahamas is a dynamic country with so many opportunities on the horizon,” said Jeff Todd, Director of Communications at GIV Bahamas Inc. “From my early days with the Nassau Guardian, to my many years of involvement in Exuma, I have always been honoured to have a front-row seat to this Bahamian story. The Canadian connection to The Bahamas runs deep and GIV Bahamas Inc is excited to be a part of it.

The gala, held at the Delta Chelsea in downtown Toronto, was organized by the National Association of Bahamians in Canada (N-ABC), a registered non-profit that supports the Bahamian community in Canada.

Established in the early 1980s, this organization has played an important role in fundraising, advancing the education of Bahamians and preserving Bahamian culture for those living abroad. His Excellency Alvin Smith, the High Commissioner of The Bahamas, along with Paul Lewis, the President of N-ABC, delivered remarks to the 250-person plus crowd.

“As we embrace the opportunities and challenges of the present, the Association is well poised for growth across the pillars of membership engagement and delivering on our philanthropic agenda centered on educational sponsorships and disaster resiliency support,” said Lewis, who has lived and worked in Canada for decades. “We value the participation and contribution of each individual and organization to our efforts and are indeed very thankful.” Performance

During the High Commissioner’s address, he made special mention of Peter Nicholson, the President of GIV Bahamas Inc., as an example of how Canadians and Bahamians can work together towards national development in The Bahamas.

Specifically, he pointed out how Tyrone Munroe, who was born on Little Farmer’s Cay in Exuma, Bahamas, met Nicholson well over a decade ago in Ottawa. Munroe had been living in Canada for more than 30 years and raised a family there. But from that meeting onwards, Nicholson and Munroe formed a friendship and business relationship that formed the basis of GIV Bahamas Inc., a company that owns the largest number of villas at Grand Isle Resort.

Like N-ABC, GIV Bahamas Inc. remains committed to giving back to Bahamians both in Canada and abroad through the Exuma Foundation of Canada, which organizes community events and makes substantial donations in the areas of health and education. Nicholson also hosts parties in Canada that help bring Canadians the Bahamians together. IMG_6563

Other highlights of the evening included performances by the Fine Arts Institute from Grand Bahama, and several speeches by special award winners, including Eric Minns, Violet Farquharson-Lambert, John Zonicle and Lawrence “Beauford” Taylor. All of these individuals were honoured for their commitment to the N-ABC and contributions to the Bahamian community.

“I want to congratulate The Bahamas on its 45 years of independence,” Nicholson said. “The Bahamas, and especially Exuma, is a special place for my whole family. Thank you to High Commission Smith and all of our friends of The Bahamas for always making Canadians feel so welcome.”