By Francine Canelo // Staff Writer
Bigfoot is a name synonymous with myth, mystery, and controversy. Whether or not you believe in these creatures of secret origin, they’re ingrained in our culture. Cryptozoology is the study of cryptids, and a cryptid is an animal whose existence is unsubstantiated.
Cryptozoologists study the nature of these animals and more importantly, why they make a difference to people. Florida has a few cryptids that are native to our everglades and suburbs. While you won’t be seeing the Yeti, here’s a few cryptids you may someday encounter.
One of the more elusive cryptids said to be roaming around the everglades is the Skunk Ape. He’s characterized by a pungent odor and an appearance similar to BigFoot, but smaller in scale, like a human.
His origins are unknown, but in 1997, he was photographed by Dave Shealey, who now operates the Skunk Ape Headquarters in Ochopee, FL. Shealey offers Skunk Ape Hunts as well and hopes to spread more awareness about the stinky creature in the science community.
Across the other end of the Floridian peninsula, another cryptid is said to roam and stalk. The Wampus Cat is a panther-like creature with six legs and is possibly bi-pedal. The yellow eyes and skunk smell are what distinguish it from a creature of known origins.
The mythos of the Wampus Cat is varied, but the most common origin story is one of a beautiful woman who was turned into the creature during a ritual. There have been sightings of the cryptid in the everglades, and its possible location also spans through the Appalachians, across 25 or so states.
The Hog Kong, not to be confused with Hogzilla, was killed in 2004 in Florida by Larry Earley. The beast was over 1,000 lbs. The Florida man shot the Hog Kong, which was reported to be one of the largest hogs on record, with a .44 caliber gun.
Similar to the Hog Kong, the Florida Sea Devil and the Mega Alligator are Florida myths from reality. The Mega Alligator makes headlines every so often, most recently being spotted on a golf course. The Florida Sea Devil originates from the same folklore of giant beasts and has been reported in Florida waters to be a record-breaking size.