Another Skunk Ape Spotted in Florida
If you’re looking for something to do in Florida that’s cheaper and has shorter lines than Disney World, you might want to head to Alderman’s Ford park in Plant City where yet another Skunk Ape was spotted and recorded on video. This is the third sighting with a recording or a photograph in two years. Is something driving the Skunk Apes out of the Florida swamps?
The latest video is dated June 5, 2015, and was allegedly taken at the Alderman’s Ford Regional Park (admission $2 – much less than Disney World) on County Road 39 in Hillsborough County. The Alafia River runs through the park and is popular for canoeing (very short lines).
Mitch W. Davis posted the video of a Skunk Ape walking in front of the trees before taking cover among them. He doesn’t say anything about finding tracks or smelling the telltale Skunk Ape odor of wet swamp-soaked fur. The Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Parks Department did not have any other Skunk Ape or Bigfoot reports in any of the county’s parks.
However, there have been Skunk Ape and Bigfoot reports recently in the area. This video was taken in January 2015 at Lettuce Lake Park in Tampa, just 20 miles from Plant City and also in Hillsborough County. It shows a Skunk Ape moving very quickly through the swamp.
This video was taken in 2013 in the Myakka River State Park in Sarasota County, about 80 miles from Plant City. The Myakka River has had other Skunk Ape sightings, which is why they’re sometimes called Myakka Apes.
What’s causing the increase in Skunk Ape sightings in Florida? Is the heat driving them out of the steamy swamplands to cooler areas? Are the rivers driving up and forcing them to look elsewhere for water? Are they tired of all of the tourists avoiding Disney World and spending their vacations in Skunk Ape Land instead?
Dave Shealy, the younger and more outspoken of the two, is Florida’s self-appointed Skunk Ape expert. Slim, in his mid-forties, he wears dark, wraparound sunglasses, a hat with a band of alligator teeth, and no shoes.
“There’s never been a documented case of anyone ever being physically attacked by a Skunk Ape,” he says, reassuringly. “But also, there’s a lot of people that go into the Everglades that never come out.”
Dave has been studying the Skunk Ape “pretty much all my life” and describes it as six to seven feet tall and 350 to 450 pounds. He guesses that there are between seven and nine of the creatures around here, in a waterlogged and buggy wetland of buzzards, alligators, and towering sawgrass.
“Not everyone who sees a Skunk Ape reports it,” says Dave. “They don’t want people to poke fun at ’em, or to tell ’em they’re crazy. That’s not the exception; that’s pretty much the rule.” But reports do get through. Dave recalls that in 2003 two European women were in the Big Cypress Swamp, photographing plants, when they were surprised by “a huge male Skunk Ape” with an erection. “It was what I believe was the mating season,” Dave explains. The women escaped unharmed.
Best footage ever taken by Dave Shealy
They have, however, encountered the inexplicable. “Last time we were out — I’m not kidding you — we heard a female,” Conner says.
Barton adds, “They want to get close to you is what we think, because they’re familiar with us. They have a great curiosity.”
The “they” Conner and Barton refer to are skunk apes, Florida’s slender, hairy, and pungently scented seven-foot-tall version of the legendary Bigfoot, also known as Sasquatch. Conner claims he and his sister as children saw one when they were playing near the swamp in an area that later became a subdivision. The image of the huge creature loping along a line of banana trees and into the untamed forest has haunted him for decades.
It’s 9 a.m., 30 minutes and three miles into Conner and Barton’s journey to the heart of the Green Swamp. This is where the 140-mile Withlacoochee River begins to seep from the earth. Sun slices through the canopy, illuminating diamonds on spider webs and wild grass. Conner and Barton lay their bikes on the ground and prep their gear: GoPro, audio devices, FLIR thermal-imaging camera. Machetes in hand, they leave the bikes behind and part the leafy walls of the forest, pushing through palmetto fans and stepping over dead trees and mounds of duff rooted by feral hogs. They follow a wet path along a small creek while carefully looking out for snakes and the alligator they spied last time they were here. Eventually, the underbrush gives way to a cathedral-like space where a broad sandbar has created an open glade of tall cypress trees. Barton stops and looks up as dragonflies zip through the cool, airy realm. “Welcome to the Thunderdome,” he says.
The pair doesn’t plan to pursue a skunk ape. They hope to pique its curiosity and provoke interaction. The idea is to simply hang out, chat calmly, and they’ll come. These guys never bring firearms into the woods. “We feel if we carry weapons, they’ll sense that,” Conner says while Barton pans the GoPro around the perimeter of Thunderdome. “I subscribe to this: Once you’re in their area, they have no choice other than to… watch you.” This explains why the guys haven’t used dogs to track the skunk apes. Conner also says he doesn’t want a dog to get killed by a seven-foot-tall primate.