Living close to the Everglades, weird wildlife encounters don't really seem all that "weird" anymore. South Florida is some next-level wilderness.
Every now and then, though, you hear about an encounter with something that shouldn't be there. Sometimes it's an escaped or released exotic animal; hurricanes have destroyed countless wildlife enclosures and some people don't realize how big that cool pet is really going to get and choose to set it loose.
Sometimes it's a "skunk ape."
Florida's version of a 'bigfoot' sounds a little easier to believe when you factor in the huge number of primate enclosures that have been destroyed over the decades. We have established populations of things like monkeys, pythons, and boars now.
Why not gorillas or orangutans? They're both tall upright hair covered primates that might match the description.
Except skunk ape stories go back way before zoos and the exotic pet industry.
Reddit user cruzer58b asked:
"Those of you that TRULY believe you have seen a cryptid (Bigfoot, jersey devil, etc.) what’s your story?"
South Florida isn't the only place the wild gets weird. OBVIOUSLY.
Look at what these Reddit users have experienced.
The Thing Hunting OrcasMarine Life Beauty GIF by OceanaGiphy
"I was on a ferry for a school softball trip, off Kodiak island AK, 2014. I was 18."
"A whole bunch of us had snuck up to the deck around 11pm to watch the waves and generally be teenagers on a boat without supervision. It was 11pm in May in Alaska so the sun was thinking about setting but it was still bright outside."
"So we’re just doing our thing and we notice a pod of orcas swimming with the ferry’s wake, which is very cool but not, like, unusual."
"If you’re familiar with the dimensions of an orca fin you know they’re about 4-6 ft in height and look like big black spikes coming out of the water. Being Alaskan teenagers, we were very familiar. This is important."
"Orcas travel and hunt in pods of anywhere between 15-40 whales. Apex predators. The beautiful demon murderers of the sea."
"Total a**holes. Top of the food chain."
"So we saw this pod of orcas swimming with the boat, counted around 10- 15, with some babies scattered in there. Very fun to watch for the good 30 minutes to all go by. We tried to get pictures, but it was just dark enough that our shitty 2014 phone cameras weren't much good."
"Another 30 or 40 minutes go by and we’ve all pretty much sobered up and it’s about to finally get dark and we’re cold and sleepy and about ready to go in."
"We haven’t seen an orca for like half an hour, and then one of the girls spots another one and points it out. So we all turn and look at the whale's dorsal fin - but one dorsal fin is immediately followed by another, and another, and another, and then two more, and then two more after that, in two separate rows, and they’re taller, by a LOT, and jagged, like some have whole chunks torn out of them, and they’re all 8-10 feet high."
"And all these fins are attached to ONE creature."
"We can just barely see its back slicing through the water, covered in these rows of spikes, and it just. Keeps. Coming. This thing is like 20 or 30 feet from the ferry, running parallel to it, and we are all transfixed."
"This wasn't a small group - there’s like 9 or 10 of us and no one is saying a word because we’ve all turned to look at a whale and we are all now watching something that is like, horrifically, terrifyingly obviously NOT a whale."
"Someone tries to take a picture but it’s too dark at this point and the only reason we can see this thing is the light cast from ferry portholes, which is a take as old as time when it comes to things that you REALLY f*cking wish you had a picture of."
"But we all stand there completely scared stiff and in awe and we watch this thing just KEEP surfacing for a good 6 or 7 minutes which means that whatever it was was LONG. Like..... 60 or 70 feet long."
"And covered in enormous spikes. Spikes that looked like they’d won thousands of battles with god knows what."
"It took what felt like an eternity for any of us to say anything after the last of it disappeared back into the strait."
"I mean if you and like ten of your friends had just all seen something that all science had DEFINITELY pointed to not existing, and you had all seen the same exact thing, AND it was very OBVIOUSLY trailing, nay, HUNTING, not one but 15 something APEX F*CKIN PREDATORS, what do you even say to break that silence?"
"That’s the thing that eats me about the whole thing, is it was hunting. It was following them. It was literally hunting about 60 tons of toothy, angry, intelligent apex predator."
"Every once in a while one of us will hit another one of us up and check in, like 'Do remember this? Was I hallucinating? Did we all see the same, insane, worldview-melting, terrifying thing that night?' And the reason I KNOW we did is because none of us talked about it."
"Not during the trip, not after, not to any of our friends because how the f*ck do you even tell someone about something like that?"
"Now we have almost 10 years between us and that night I assume some of them have probably told people, I know I tell people, because I’ve seen a LOT like that in Alaska and I’m That B*tch."
"And also because there’s a very rich history among native Alaskans of a Something that lives and hunts in the waters around Kodiak and it’s important to tell its story because someday it’s gonna eat a little too much plastic and no one will ever watch it hunt a pod of orcas terrified from a boat ever again."
The Cutest CryptidArts And Crafts Love GIF by NickelodeonGiphy
"One night I was driving home at around 2 AM and this tiny, tiny white creature (probably as tall as a Pringles can, though maybe a bit smaller) walked across the road in front of my car."
"I hadn't thought about this in a while but here's what I can remember: The bottoms of its "legs" ended in what looked like flowy bits or ribbons, and it was almost translucent. I could almost see the road THROUGH the creature."
"It walked at a kind of jaunty pace, just like a person might walk. The best way to describe it is like that super steppy walk that the dwarves sometimes do in Snow White, or Mickey Mouse does sometimes."
"I slowed my car down but was afraid to stop it completely, and the thing disappeared as my car went 'through' it."
"Honestly it was so f*cking cute that I wasn't even scared, but I was shaken up by having seen something like this."
"I couldn't believe what I saw, so I called my then-boyfriend and frantically described the creature. He told me that it sounded like the Fresno Nightcrawler, and when I got home and looked it up, THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT IT LOOKED LIKE."
"I had never heard about them before. I do not live in California, not even close. I still have no clue what it was."
The SwimmerMichael C Hall Night GIF by DexterGiphy
"I used to go running and take a break at a train bridge in Iowa city when I went to school there."
"I did a lot of night runs. Sometimes, only after dark, I'd hear something swimming around at that train bridge. Maybe human or deer sized."
"One time, It was late and I heard it again. But this time, I could see something dark on the water. Looked like a profile of a very large head."
"I said 'hello, someone there?' "
"It stopped dead still and looked at me. It was dark but I could tell it was looking right at me. This went on for 30 seconds to a minute. It then went under, and I never saw or heard it again."
"I told myself it was a person swimming. But why not say hi back? Also, where did it go under to?""It was a slow river, I would have heard it surfacing or getting out of the water unless it went over a hundred feet."
"That's the closest thing to a cryptid I've seen and known about."
"Some people are saying beavers and otters. I've seen river otters (but not in the US), it was far too big to be a normal sized one. I've never seen the 6 ft ones, and I don't think they live anywhere near Iowa."
"It was much too big to be a beaver too, I see those all the time, and they're usually denoted by telltale signs such as dams and chewed trees. Also, I've never seen beavers active at night only during the day."
"I think it was probably just a person, maybe a homeless person who wanted to not be bothered by me."
"As I said, that's the closest I've come to seeing a cryptid, I know the original post asked for people that are 100% sure, but it was late at night and it felt appropriate to tell that story."
Orangutan/Lemur Hybridorangutan GIFGiphy
"When I was 14 or so in 2003 I saw what looked like an orangutan/lemur hybrid watching me from the trees."
"When it realized I was looking at it, it took off into the trees and disappeared. This was in Western NC, nothing like that should have been around here."
"For a few years I looked for articles about someone’s escaped exotic pet but never found anything. Eventually just wrote it off."
"Years later I heard a Lore episode about the Pukwudgie and I immediately got chills because the description matched what I saw. I’m still not sure what happened."
"Few months ago I was dumb enough to wander into the same patch of woods. I got nailed by a rock and when I looked up I saw a small outline ducking around like it was watching my reaction. Again, when it recognized I was looking at it, it took off."
"I don’t know what happened but I also don’t really plan on going back."
Hopefully A Bearred dead redemption bear GIFGiphy
"About 16 years ago I lived in the rural areas of Kansas, town was about 6 miles from my house."
"At night while I was waiting for sleep I stared out of my window and look out into the darkness. Normally I would see owls, possums, racoons, coyote, etc all just minding their business doing animal stuff."
"And I could always hear them. Loud and clear."
"One night as I am trying to get to bed I watch and listen for the wildlife and on this night there was none to be heard or seen. Being a kid I thought nothing of it."
"Until I saw a HUGE black figure moving on four legs."
"I could swear I had seen a brown bear this thing was THAT massive. Except we lived in midwest Kansas. We have no bears."
"Cows and horses are too tall and not wide enough for what I saw. Plus our neighbors all had cattle so I was familiar with what they look like at night."
"People suggested it could have been one of the massive dogs like a malamute or leonberger or something. Maybe it could have been, but they are still too small for what I saw."
"Never saw it again"
"There are bears in Colorado, Arkansas, Missouri, And a bit in Oklahoma. Kansas is in the historic range of black bears as well."
"I don't think it's a stretch that one may have wandered in from a surrounding state."
"This would relieve years of stress and the itch of the unknown if I could get confirmation that it was, it is how I always make it out in my head. A really big bear."
The Big Bluetrailer GIF by Jurassic WorldGiphy
"Been deep sea fishing a few times. You NEVER see schools of fish so far out, but once we saw this massive shadow moving FAST. It couldn't have been a whale, they don't move like that. The skipper stared at this mass of blue with me for about 20 seconds before it was gone and swore it was a megalodon. i'm not convinced but I have never seen a school of fish that far out in the ocean ever."
"It could be a large species of squid such as Colossal or Giant Squid. They are found world wide. It's odd they would come to the surface, but it's not to weird."
"Other options are Sunfish, Oarfish, or Large Shark."
"I’m a firm believer there has to be some kind of megalodon or something out there, we just don’t know enough about the ocean"
When It Looked At Chandlerscary jack the giant killer GIFGiphy
"My friend was at a camp with me and we were in the same cabin, we all stayed up late we got tired and went to sleep."
"My friend, lets call him Chandler, and I stole some instant coffee packets from the kitchen and we had them in water at night. Chandler didn't have a good caffeine tolerance like me so he stayed up a bit after all of us went to sleep."
"I asked him what he was going to do and he said he brought a novel and he was going to read it until he fell asleep."
"It was about 1am and we are all peacefully sleeping and then we hear the biggest scream. Chandler was crying and shaking in his sleeping bag and everyone in our cabin came over to see what was wrong and to help him out."
"He screaming really loud and if that didn't wake up other cabins and the teachers then his loud crying after did. Soon all the teachers were inside out cabin and I had to stay on my bunk bed to not be squashed."
"Chandler told us that he saw a ghost wandering around our cabin. He said he also heard the wind breeze while the ghost was moving. Another guy in my cabin backed him up saying he also heard that."
"Chandler was sent home and everyone continued the camp, however, it felt really weird. I talked to him a lot when we all got home and he told me more details."
"He told me he looked at the ghost for about 3 seconds because he was too shocked to say anything. The ghost was not white look in movies, it was transparent and BARELY visible."
"He told me it looked like a little boy. The little boy was not in our school uniform, but in really old fashioned clothes. Chandler told me he wasn’t too scared of the boy in those 3 seconds but shocked because it was a ghost."
"Then what really screwed him was after those 3 seconds when his brain clicked and he screamed."
"The ghost boy turned and looked at him "with shallow, lifeless eyes" and then rushed out of the cabin. This was the wind sound Chandler and my cabin mate heard."
"Then I remember distinctly what Chandler said because if I was him, I would doubt everything I know. He said 'That ghost looked at me, with no expression, and even though it was only for a split second, it felt like an eternity. I knew it wasn’t just my mind playing tricks when I saw his eyes. There was no soul in them, like it had been sucked away.' "
"I find it really weird because Chandler is the most honest guy I know and he seemed really traumatized."
"I was considering if it was the effect of the coffee, but he had it the night before as well and didn't see and hallucinations. Plus he was a regular drinker and he loved the taste even though it made him stay up."
"This story shakes me to this day."
"Not A Deer"Busch Beer GIF by BuschGiphy
"Alright it’s finally my time to shine!"
"The area I live in has a very active deer population. They’re constantly getting hit by cars at night in my area and people constantly have to be on the lookout for these dudes."
"So one night I’m driving home from my friends house around 1am. I’m going pretty slow because the place near my house has a pretty big deer family who loves the area (around 6-7 of them)."
"So I’m driving up a hill going around 30mph and I had to slam on my breaks cause a 'deer' runs in front of my car."
"I don’t know if it was because it was super late at night and I was tired or what. But I sh*t you not, this was not a deer."
"It kind of was, but it had one too many legs and too many eyes. I only saw it for a second cause it ran past my car. But it was the weirdest thing I’d ever seen."
"It was pretty quick when it went by my car, but the 'tail' for sure was a leg, I can say that for certain."
"I even looked it up later and there is a commonly seen cryptid called the “Not a Deer” so that’s just my fun little cryptid story."
Jellyfish In The Airjellyfish GIF by Monterey Bay AquariumGiphy
"Walking through the woods in the southeast US for fun I walked through a field where there were tiny fluorescent jellyfish-like things floating through the air. Maybe half an inch to 2 inches in size."
"I initially thought it was some kind of plant spores or something moving in the wind but when I looked at them closer they were actually moving independently."
"That was about 2006. I spent months going through those woods and that field over and over again with a camera trying to find them but I've never seen them since."
Not A Raccoonraccoon stealing GIFGiphy
"I live in central PA. I have been hunting fox and such animals for 6 years now."
"We were out hunting one night and we use a Foxpro e-caller and red lights. We turned on the call - a rabbit in distress call, to be exact."
"I watched a path by myself and heard crashing and saw eyes."
"I was ready to shoot but then the eyes moved and stood up. They stood up almost 7 or 8 feet into the trees."
"I thought it was a raccoon until I looked through my scope and saw movement below the eyes. Now I don't know what that was."
"Till this day I refuse to sit alone in the woods at night."
The RakeScared Horror GIFGiphy
"A little late but, when I was about 11-12 my mom was pregnant and asked me to clean out the cat litter."
"To set the stage, we live out literally in the middle of no where with big fields and pastures wrapped all around. My grandparents lived directly across from me and had a big dumpster bin where we’d all dump our trash into."
"I’m walking across the rock road with a grocery bag of cat shit in my hand and I notice that my grandparents motion light was already on. I thought it was odd but didn’t think much else."
"I kept walking and see something like a white blob on top of the dumpster. I’m not wearing my glasses so it’s a little fuzzy and I’m thinking it’s a cat."
"So I’m slowly walking up to it, pst-psting at it not trying to scare it away."
"As I’m walking slowly, something starts banging on the dumpster. In my head I’m like WTF but creep closer for about 5 more seconds until there is the biggest bang and drop."
"For reference the dumpster is directly in front of a big wooden fence and about 20 ft back from that is a barbed wire fence."
"This thing takes off and has to hop around the fence and I see it’s entire white spine, just so bony, and once it gets close to the barbed wire fence it turns left, and I see it’s entire side, the way it’s running, like a human dog hybrid."
"But no hair. Just skin and bone."
"I f*cking panic and run home and I’m crying to my mom and she’s yelling at my sister telling her to stop scaring me."
"Maybe a year later found a photo of the rake. Everyone I tell this story to acts like I’m out of my mind but the image of the rake’s back is FOREVER burned into my mind."
"Came home with my mom after she got off work. It was like 12 AM, and we lived in a small town in the middle of basically no where. There was a small section of forest behind our house, have never seen anything too creepy back there before."
"As my mom drives into the drive way, her headlights hit something in the tree line - pale face, sunken in eyes, hunched over in no way a human could."
"His back legs bent backwards and he had no visible genitals. But he was tall. Hunched over, he was about the size of a regular man."
"He was looking directly at us and my mom whispered if I saw it too. I started sobbing, rightfully so when faced with something that looks like the Rake."
"My mom backed up and parked in front of the house. We sat there for a minute before sprinting inside where I had nightmares."
"The next morning we told my neighbor about it."
"Apparently at about 2 AM she heard something scratching violently at her back door and Windows. The dogs didn’t bark so she thought it was her son playing tricks on her… until he walked into her room."
"Still the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen and why I can’t look at photos or videos of the Rake. Because I’ve seen it. I 100% believe he’s real."
Narrowly AvoidedCovering Ears GIF by Back to the Future TrilogyGiphy
"I believe I heard the Jersey Devil and narrowly avoided being devoured by it."
"It was 2013, October. I was down the shore and living in Point Pleasant, but went to Atlantic City for a day. I stopped at a motel in Waretown at the edge of the Pine Barrens and sea in Ocean County."
"That part of Ocean County is less built up than LBI, Point Pleasant, or Seaside Heights. The motel was dirty and run down."
"I slept on towels in the bathroom because it looked like there were bedbugs, it was that bad."
"At around 2 AM, I hear on the side door to my room exiting to the motel pool, a loud aggressive banging. Someone, or something is trying to break the door down."
"My first thought is its drunk kids at the pool...but the pool was closed and covered because its October."
"Then I realize it's too big to be a kid...and that it's making a noise that's halfway between children's laughter and snarling megafauna."
"The door sounds like its gonna snap and I bolt to the hall. It stops."
"I was told it was the Jersey Devil which the locals swear is real and it has a habit of banging on sheds in Waretown, like the shed for the pool equipment."
Where Are You, Werecat?Youtube Lol GIF by Rosanna PansinoGiphy
"When I was super young, like maybe 10 or 11, I was in little league baseball that my dad coached. One of the fields we played on was behind a school that was in the middle of a suburb, with a small forest on one side."
"I remember playing on the park that was at the school because the game was over, and I looked over to the trees to see a lady, maybe 5-6ft tall, wearing a think black zip up hoodie."
"Looked maybe 20 years old."
"She was running into the forest holding her hands on her face, and I distinctly remember clear as day that she had cat eyes, like creepily oversized yellow eyes that resembled a cat."
"I was very young so honestly I've just chalked it up to me having an overactive imagination, but the memory of her is so clear, even with the eyes."
My long-term readers will know I'm super sketched out by orcas and have essentially written off Argentina because their orcas hunt on land.
Alaska clearly needs to get scratched off my list, too.
Anything big enough to hunt orcas is certainly big enough to hunt Ericas and I'm not trying to be on anyone's menu.
Kthankxbye, giant spiky sea thing.
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Cryptids are always an interesting subject of conversation—whether you're a believer, a skeptic, or somewhere in between.
What's a cryptid?
A cryptid is an animal—such as Sasquatch or the Loch Ness Monster—that has been claimed to exist but never proven to exist.
People who study the legend and lore of cryptids are called cryptozoologists.
Reddit user GhostintheCircuit0 asked:
"What mythical creature is the most likely to have existed or currently exist?"
"Questing Beast from Arthurian Legends (King Arthur). Leopard spots, noises like a pack of hounds, feet of a camel, neck of a snake."
"It’s a giraffe."
"The Kraken. I mean, giant squids are a thing."
"Also, a mundane giant squid attacks an escape boat, some tiny little rowboat. a game of telephone later, it's kraken taking down a 60 man crew on a naval ship."
"When Romans described unicorns, they described them as hippos with a horn on the face. Not sure how we ended up with a horse with a horn on its face. Some bad translation somewhere. Anyway, unicorns absolutely exist and we currently call them rhinos."
"As it's been pointed out, Hippopotamus means river horse. So if you were someone who had never seen a river horse you would probably think it looked like a horse, but like, by a river. Then if someone said there was an animal like a river horse but with a horn on its head, you would probably come up with something like a unicorn."
"I think the stories of big cats in the UK are plausible. Granted a lot of the photos that turn up in the tabloids are laughably just big housecats, but some sightings seem reasonable."
"For example I was watching a police car chase show once and out of the blue the helicopter highlighted what was clearly a big cat moving through the undergrowth at the side of the motorway."
"Then there was a news story about a boy who claimed to have been clawed by a big cat and the markings were allegedly found to be consistent with a puma."
"Finally during a visit to a wildlife sanctuary near Bodmin Moor a keeper told my family and I about big cat prints found outside their puma enclosure ... Their animals were all accounted for."
"A law change - I think in the 60's - made it illegal to own big cats and the zoos quickly became full, so it's thought that some owners let their animals loose rather than have to pay a fine/ have them put down."
"When I was a kid I got really into Cryptids."
"Even then I knew which one was the most likely to exist. https://allcryptid.fandom.com/wiki/Maltese_Tiger"
"Just a grey coloring of a normal tiger. We already get white ones. Why would a grey/blue one be impossible?"
"Chupacabra is probably just a coyote with some disease like mange."
"There is a coyote that lives in the hills by my house, and it has mange. When I first moved in, it was almost completely bald. Really weird looking. I see it probably once a week or so, running on my street. It has slowly gotten better, but man did it look bad."
"Dragons? I read somewhere that one theory for the legend of dragons being popular across multiple cultures is because of dinosaur fossils. We did have giant flying reptiles, they were just pterosaurs and didn’t breathe fire."
"Jackalope sightings may have been rabbits with HPV (causes gnarly keratinized tumors on their heads that look like horns/antlers), though the myth was largely perpetuated by creative taxidermists"
"Bigfoot. I think they're just mountain men who got fed up with living with other people. Just big ungroomed hairy dudes covered in animal furs that see hikers and people so they grab some shit and disappear back into the woods. And when they're spotted they nope out."
The world is a very strange place, who knows what wonders actually exist but actually have purely mundane explanations?
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