These 3 Places in Florida Are Where the Legendary ‘Skunk Ape’ Has Been Spotted

Sweetwater Strand, Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida Everglades
© William Silver/Shutterstock.com

Written by Amber Lake

Published: November 29, 2023

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Are you looking for places in Florida where the Skunk Ape has been spotted? This tale may have you chasing it in circles.

Across the globe, legends of a mythological “wild man” have cropped up. From Bigfoot to the Indomitable Snowman, the creature appears to mark its territory in every habitat and climate. However, few are as familiar with the Floridian swamp wandering vagabond that is the Skunk Ape.

The Skunk Ape is more than a scuzzy version of the famous Northwest Sasquatch, creating intrigue in tourists to sell tchotchkes. Its legend is steeped in the oldest human framework of the region.

The first iteration of the Skunk Ape came from Seminole lore, where it was known as Esti Capcaki. Indigenous stories referred to a tall man-like creature who was foul-smelling and powerful. Later, early European settlers interpreted the legend as “Skunk Ape.” According to legend, this hairy wild man is recognized first by the smell of rotten eggs.

Since 2010, 48 of 67 counties in Florida have reported sightings of the creature. Videos and pictures of the monster roaming marshland and reaping havoc have surfaced. However, it is no surprise that the evidence still needs to be officially verified despite the onslaught of reports.

As of 2021, there have been 350 sightings overall. This makes Florida one of the most highly reported states for the legendary “wild man” creature. But skeptics, beware: you’re not as ubiquitous as you may think. LiveScience says one-third of Americans believe in Bigfoot (or his hairy cousins).

That said, if you’re among the 25% interested in an impromptu meeting, these places in Florida where Skunk Ape has been spotted most often.

Ochopee

Ochopee is an unincorporated community in Collier County. The Big Cypress National Preserve is located near the region and has only 130 residents.

Sweetwater Strand, Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida Everglades

Cypress National Preserve hosts part of the Florida Everglades, where the Skunk Ape has been spotted.

©William Silver/Shutterstock.com

However, it is home to the Skunk Ape Research Center, operated by long-time searcher Dave Shealy.

Shealy claims to have seen the Ape in 1973 when he was nine. He has stumbled upon a large set of footprints while deer hunting with his father. Later, when he was a little older, he came face-to-face with the creature.

“It was walking across the swamp, and my brother spotted it first,” Shealy told West Palm Beach News. “But I couldn’t see it over the grass. I wasn’t tall enough. My brother picked me up, and I saw it about a hundred yards away. It looked like a man but completely covered with hair.”

In 1997, Dave Shealy photographed the Skunk Ape walking through the grass. The last sighting occurred in 2021, just behind the Research Center.

While tourists passing through the area might not get a glimpse of the beast, they can visit the Research Center, see casts of feet, and pick up a few momentos.

While the inside of the building may not be one of the places in Florida where Skunk Ape has been spotted, it still hosts plenty to see.

Polk County

The most substantial accounts outside of the Everglades have occurred in Polk County.

The imprint of a person's foot in granite. Big Foot. Footprint on the ground of the yeti.

The Great Florida Bigfoot Conference draws Bigfoot fans from all over the United States.

©Igor Shoshin/Shutterstock.com

The creature appeared active in 1975 when reports of three separate sightings occurred. In one case, a man alerted authorities that he saw a skunk ape with an armload of corn on the road. Then, in 2004, after a major hurricane, a woman reported the storm had flushed out the creature from its forest habitat.

“I noticed something in the ditch. I looked over, and I guess it noticed me,” the woman told the Orlando Sentinel. “When he saw me, he was as surprised as I was.”

When it comes to places the Skunk Ape has been seen in Florida most often, Polk tops the charts in believers.

The inaugural Great Florida Bigfoot Conference is hosted here. Although, there is debate about whether the creature observed in the area is a separate species from the Sasquatch.

Sarasota County

The most compelling piece of evidence has always been video. The footage was captured in Sarasota County.

In 2013, Mike Falconer uploaded his video of the Skunk Ape to YouTube. He was at Myakka River State Park when he claimed to have obtained it after chasing it through a field.

While the quality of his iPhone 4S isn’t high-definition, the video shows what appears to be a Bigfoot-like creature running, eventually coming on the road. Passerbys stop to observe the Skunk Ape themselves.

This incident is the second time in Sarasota that the Skunk Ape was captured by camera. Thirteen years prior, a woman took photos of what may have been the elusive Floridian wild man from her back porch. She claims it was stealing her apples and mailed the images to the Sheriff’s Department. While the woman indicated she believed the creature to be an orangutan, many believe it was the Skunk Ape.

And that’s why Sarasota tops the chart as a place in Florida where Skunk Ape has been spotted most often.


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About the Author

Amber Lake is a freelance journalist hailing from Florida. She has written investigative features on major environmental events in her region and has traveled the world exploring its incredible natural wonders. She currently lives with her two dogs and spends her free time planning her next road trip on her school bus, which she converted into an RV. Her goal is to hit all 63 National Parks sites in the U.S.

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