All About the Skunk Ape: Florida’s Bigfoot

Skunk-Ape

Image via Dave Shealy

By Crystal Harlan

April 26, 2023

The Seminole and Miccosukee indigenous people have stories about a mysterious, powerful, and foul-smelling creature called Esti Capcaki, which means “Tall Man” or “Hairy Giant” in Seminole.

He’s large, hairy, and a common character in cryptid lore. And if you’ve lived in Florida for long enough—even though you may have never seen him—you’ve probably heard of him: the famous Skunk Ape.

What is a Skunk Ape?

Think of the Skunk Ape as Bigfoot’s shorter cousin in Florida. He’s an ape-like creature with dark red to black fur who stands 5-7 feet tall and has a foul odor, hence the name. 

Skunk Ape Sightings

While mainstream scientists discount the existence of the Skunk Ape, there are countless anecdotal sightings that go back hundreds of years, as well as photographs, videos, and casts of the creature’s large footprints.

The Seminole and Miccosukee indigenous people have stories about a mysterious, powerful, and foul-smelling creature called Esti Capcaki, which means “Tall Man” or “Hairy Giant” in Seminole.

Early European settlers reported sightings not only in Florida, but also in Georgia and Alabama, and in 1818, a local newspaper in what is now Apalachicola, Florida, reported that a “man-sized monkey” was raiding grocery stores and stalking fishermen. 

Witness accounts and newspaper articles about sightings haven’t ceased since, stretching as far south as the Keys. Some reports allege that the Skunk Ape has invaded homes, stalked people, and killed livestock.

RELATED: Florida’s Weirdest Roadside Attractions

Since 2010 alone, 48 of Florida’s 67 counties have reported sightings of the Skunk Ape.

One of the most impressive pieces of evidence is Dave Shealy’s video from 2000, featured here with his permission.

Video via Dave Shealy

Floricua spoke with Shealy, who told us he was in the Big Cypress Preserve looking for deer and wildlife when he shot the footage of the Skunk Ape.  “It was preseason, so I had a camera, not a gun,” he said.

What may not be evident from the video, Shealy said, is that the creature was moving in two feet of water. “That thing was moving as fast as a deer.”

But this wasn’t the first time Shealy saw the mysterious creature. His first encounter was when he was 10 years old, and since then he has spotted the Skunk Ape multiple times. In fact, he believes there are currently three of them in the Big Cypress Preserve.  “That particular area is kind of special.”

Author

  • Crystal Harlan

    Crystal is a bilingual editor and writer with over 20 years of experience in digital and print media. She is currently based in Florida, but has lived in small towns in the Midwest, Caracas, New York City, and Madrid, where she earned her MA in Spanish literature.

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