Florida's Skunk Ape and Gatorman: Mythical Creatures Allegedly Found in the Everglades

L. Cane

Mythical creatures have been in the public consciousness for centuries. Trolls, fairies, and centaurs are universal examples. However, there are also regional examples, such as Scotland's Loch Ness monster and Bigfoot in the Pacific Northwest.

Florida has its own unique mythical creatures, and both are supposedly found in the Everglades - the Skunk Ape and Gatorman.

Florida's Skunk Ape: According to Everglades Adventure, like Bigfoot, Skunk Ape is a supposed Sasquatch-like creature covered in red hair. The Ape is allegedly 7 feet tall and has a very distinct, foul odor (which is said to be how it got its name.) According to folklore, Native Americans commonly saw the Ape, who they called the "tall man." However, the Ape has allegedly been seen in modern times also.

Many Skunk Ape sightings have been from one man - Dave Shealy - who runs the Skunk Ape Research Headquarters in Ochopee. Shealy managed to film a sighting of the Ape in 2000, which you can see in a video from the Smithsonian Magazine on YouTube. Below is a still shot from that video on Twitter that compares the Skunk Ape to a picture of Bigfoot. Shealy believes that most of Skunk Apes are located in Big Cypress National Preserve.

Shealy isn't the only person who believes they have seen a Skunk Ape, however. Some have even allegedly seen it outside of the Everglades. According to the Tampa Bay Times, in 1974, the Florida Highway Patrol reportedly received two calls from two different Fort Lauderdale residents who saw the smelly creature.

In 1977, a supposed picture of the creature was taken by Ochopee Fire Control District Chief Vince Doerr, which you can see below. In 2004, a Lakeland woman reported sighting a 6 to 8 feet tall creature with hair that was 2 inches long. Here is the photo by Ochopee Chief Doerr. (Ochopee is approximately a ten minute drive from the Everglades.)

Despite the sightings, many wildlife professionals are skeptical. Bob DeGross, a public affairs officer with Big Cypress National Preserve, told the Smithsonian:

“People report seeing this mythical creature from time to time. But there has never been a substantiated sighting of the skunk ape that was verified by National Park Service wildlife staff.”

Gatorman: According to Mysterious Universe, a few Floridians have reported seeing a creature described as half-human and half-alligator. This creature has been dubbed the “Gatorman" and is usually described as 6 to 7 feet tall, somewhat human-looking, with an alligator-type head and ridges along its back.

The Everglades connection is made by the existence of "Jake the Alligator Man," an alleged mummified creature said to be half-man, half-alligator. "Jake" made headlines and gained a Florida connection when, in 1993, Weekly World News ran an article entitled "Half-human, half-alligator discovered in Florida swamp."

Jake is displayed at Marsh's Free Museum in Long Beach, Washington. He is pictured at the top of this article. It is said that the museum acquired the creature from an antique store for $750.

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