Meet Florida’s Sasquatch: The Skunk Ape
It seems like every state has their own Sasquatch-esque folklore and Florida is no exception. Legends of the Florida Skunk Ape have been around for hundreds of years, dating back to the area's indigenous groups description of the “esti capcaki” which roughly describes the tall man and protector of the forest.
The Florida Skunk Ape goes by a number of different names, including particularly charming monikers such as the swamp ape, stink ape and swamp cabbage man. As well as a few more on-point descriptors like Florida's Sasquatch, swamp Squatch and Myakka Skunk Ape.
This creature is described as being somewhere around seven feet tall and weighing over 300 lbs (some accounts clock them at as much as 450 lbs). It’s said that these creatures roam in packs, though notably all eye witness accounts I found were single-being sightings. And despite their rank smell—described as something between a skunk and roadkill—they’re mostly described as being peaceful.
Skunk Ape Sightings
The Florida Skunk Ape is touted as a relative of Sasquatch that resides most likely in the Everglades. Sightings of this creature are comparably more frequent to some of the other areas Sasquatch is known to roam, and it even managed to make a cameo on an episode of Unsolved Mysteries.
Many sightings over the year have been reported. Local area resident and the man behind the skunk ape research center, Dave Shealy, has spent most of his life searching for these mysterious beings and has reportedly come across them on several occasions, including when he was just 10 years old hunting deer with his brother.
They have been spotted by tourists and locals alike, including when tour operator John Vickers and five of his passengers saw what looked to be a Florida Sasquatch-like creature run across the road. Local real estate agent Jan Brock and fire chief Vince Doerr even saw one of these creatures scurrying across the same road a mere few hours apart.
In fact, the scariest photos that I’ve ever seen of any Sasquatch-like creature are allegedly Skunk Ape pictures that were taken in 2000 by an area resident who reported that the creature was swiping apples from her back deck over the period of three nights. While she called the police, the mystery thief was gone when they arrived every time. So she caught him red-handed (or red-eyed?) in a terrifying photo.
But criminal behavior isn’t the only thing that’s gotten this creature caught on camera. In fact, the Florida Skunk Ape seems to be more photogenic than some of the other Sasquatch-like creatures, having been caught on camera several times including by Vince Doerr in 1997 and Dave Shealy in 1998.
Tracker and surveyor TL Riggs also managed to get his hands on what he said is evidence of the Skunk Ape which includes both a footprint that estimates the creatures weight is 300lbs or more. As well as a possible hair sample that DNA testing came back as inconclusive—though it is important to note that analysis with a microscope confirmed that the hair was not synthetic like would be a costume nor is it from a bear, gorilla, chimpanzee, skink, dog or cat.
Then finally, and perhaps most convincing of all, there’s also Dave Shealy’s famous Florida Skunk Ape video filmed in 2000.
Are Skunk Apes Real?
It is important to note that as with most Sasquatch investigations, evidence related to the Skunk Ape is based most predominantly on eyewitness testimony. Because of that the National Park Service says the testimony is too weak to take seriously at this point. But, as someone much smarter than me said some years ago “the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” and something appears to be lurking out in the Florida Everglades. The real question is, what is it?
If you decided to take up the torch on your own Skunk Ape hunt, make sure to swing by the Skunk Ape Headquarters located at the Trails Campground where you might just be able to hear the legend of the swamp ape by Dave Shealy himself.
By Tae Haahr,
Research Writer - Sasquatch Syndicate Inc.