TAMPA, Fla.– A man on Thursday provided a series of photographs containing what he calls an ‘ape’ swimming in a swamp of southern Florida.
John Rodriguez, who sent the picture to Cryptozoology News on New Year’s Eve, said that he was “gar fishing” on a canoe in the Hillsborough River the day after Christmas when he noticed the alleged creature.
“It was around noon. This animal was walking through the swamp and crouched down into the water and that’s when I snapped the photo. It was an ape that walked like a man,” Rodriguez, a 66-year-old retired electrician, told Cryptozoology News.
He states that the animal was “well camouflaged neck deep in gator and moccasin-filled waters”.
“We were both startled. That’s when it crouched in the water. I snapped a couple shots and got out of there. I always have my camera and usually capture beautiful birds. I was in pretty dense cypress swamp, so no one was coming to help me if I needed it. I go to that area often however I don’t usually get into the thicker brush. I got a line caught in some branches that day and forced me to.”
The photographs depict the brown, hairy head and torso of a rather stoic looking ape-like “creature”. The head features a white stripe of hair covering its forehead and chin.
“I took the picture and you’re welcome to use it,” he said. I’ve heard about apes around here since I was a kid, but had only seen footprints,” the electrician added.
Also known as the Swamp Ape, the Florida Bigfoot or the Myakka Ape, the Skunk Ape is a primate cryptid allegedly living in the Sunshine State.
In 2000, two clear photographs of the purported creature were mailed to the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Department. A message was included in the mailed envelope to explain that the eyewitness had taken the picture in her own backyard and near the Myakka River. She claimed that the animal was attracted to the apples on her trees.
Bigfoot investigator AJ Marston believes there’s a relationship between apples and Bigfoot.
Other witnesses, like Florida resident John Bird, claims to feed Skunk Apes potatoes and plantains on a regular basis.
Australian researchers have also made similar claims about Yowie, a monkey-like animal supposedly related to North America’s Bigfoot . They attempted to document the alleged creature’s feeding habits with a controversial video released last April.
In 2013, a man and his son said they were driving across the Myakka River State Park when they spotted a strange animal running across a field and were able to capture it on video.
In November 2014, a woman told BFRO investigator Jim Sherman that she had encountered a “Bigfoot” while driving on Florida State Road 72. The beast, she said, was as wide as her “momma’s dodge”.
Image analysis experts are currently studying the newly released picture, although many have already dismissed the photograph as a hoax. Unnamed sources tell Cryptozoology News that the photograph is “clearly a fake”.
But Rodriguez is adamant that what he saw was real.
“I’ve been accused of Photoshopping this, or it being a costume. Both accusations are really frustrating,” he confessed.
As to why he didn’t take a video instead, the man explained that he is not sure whether the camera has that capability.
“I think it can, but I have never used that function for anything. It’s a fancy camera, but all I do is point and click it.”
He also said that the animal didn’t make any sounds and that he didn’t notice any strange odors, other than the “already pretty pungent swamp smell”.
“I know there are a lot of videos and photos, but thought I’d throw mine on the pile,” he said. “I’ll get more familiar with the camera so I can take a video next time.”