In the backwoods of the Everglades, coasting on your relaxing airboat tour, you may encounter a pungent and foul odor. Along with this odor, you may come around a particularly sharp bend in the river and find yourself face-to-chest with a large, hairy, and overbearing creature. This initial encounter sends shivers down your spine, even though the Florida summer sun is beating down heavily on your back. Right as you fill your lungs with the required oxygen to let out a death defying scream, the creature turns and races off into the swamplands.
Once the creature has vanished from sight, you try to convince yourself that it was merely a man in a gorilla suit playing a trick on you, but there’s something about the way the creature moves that tell you otherwise. What is this creature that, you will later tell your friends, nearly killed you? Standing at 6-7 ft tall, weighing up to 450 lbs, it’s the illusive Everglades skunk ape.
The skunk ape gets its name from its pungent odor. Their stench is described as being similar to rotten eggs or methane gas. Skunk ape experts–yes, there are those who claim to be skunk ape experts–say their odor stems from hiding in alligator dens that are filled with swamp gases and rotting animal caracasses.
For all intents and purposes, the skunk ape is a sasquatch- or bigfoot-like creature. Like the common bigfoot, the skunk ape is a biped, walking upright like a man, but it is covered from head to toe in dark, shaggy hair. Lurking among cypress hummocks scattered among the marsh, you may spot a skunk ape feasting on the local plantlife or dining on a fleshy Everglades animal, but don’t make too much noise on your airboat tour–these supposed Everglades inhabitants are easily spooked and can run at lightning-fast speeds.
Before you sharpen your pitchfork, don your GoPro head strap mount, and rent an airboat for the weekend, you should stop and consider the likelihood of a successful skunk-ape-sighting mission. While there have been many alleged sightings, the skunk ape is still widely believed to be a mythical creature. There has been no indisputable evidence pertaining to the creature’s existence–no irrefutable video evidence and no ape-like remains have been found in the wetlands. Until a substantial sighting from a national park services wildlife staff member occurs, the creature will remain a thing of fairytales and fables. However, just because your chances of seeing a skunk ape are just about as likely as adopting a ManBearPig as a pet, that doesn’t mean you should ignore all the other fascinating things that can be seen on an Everglades airboat tour. At Wild Florida, we enjoy navigating through the Everglades, educating guests about the real, and maybe even the fictitious, Everglades inhabitants. Visit Wild Florida the next time you’re near Orlando, we’ll take you on an unforgettable airboat tour.