Tracking Myakka’s wily Skunk Ape
19 July 2002


...more than three veteran sasquatch investigators in Florida have investigated and determined that the Myakka photograph was a masked individual in a baggy-leg costume and deemed a hoax. The imagination of creative cryptozoology writers ran away with themselves on this one, it's wishful thinking, wholly a misidentification, a hoax, call it what you like -- there is no mysterious Myakka creature in Florida, there are no fossil records of apes in Florida. Apes are quadrupeds while the bigfoot aka sasquatch or skunk ape is a biped, classifying it a homin not a pongid. Even if there were feral or escaped apes from primate facilities or circuses managing to live off the fruitless Everglades, they are not related to Florida's hominoid upright walking, hairy creature (singular) April 2005

-- In addition, a May 2006 letter from Mitsuko Choden, primate specialist in Japan revealed the Myakka ape is a costume familiar to them in assorted colors, with plastic teeth molded in the fashion of the great apes. She went on to say the subject in the Myakka photograph expressed no body, arm or leg definition that would lend itself to the great apes. ...Bobbie Short
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On the subject of the Myakka thing
, Alton Higgins...
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© East County Observer - Florida's East Manatee and Sarasota Counties Weekly Newspaper

‘A lot of people have sightings, but they sit on them because they don’t want to look like idiots.’
By Mischa Vieira

It’s been nearly nine months and there’s been no reappearance of the Myakka Skunk Ape. At least no official reports.

This past February newspapers throughout the Southeast caused a supernatural frenzy when they ran stories about the appearance of a smelly ape nearly seven feet tall in a backyard east of I-75 in Sarasota. Some writers quickly dismissed the idea of Florida’s answer to Bigfoot. Others used the opportunity to tell a few jokes, and some suggested, mockingly, organizing a search (i.e. hunting) party to find the animal that resembles an orangutan.

One local man has done just that.
The search

David Barkasy is on the prowl. Barkasy was one of the first people to see the photographs of the ape last fall after they were mailed anonymously to the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office. Since then, his curiosity has been in overdrive.

"It’s the possibility of finding something new," Barkasy says of his search for the skunk ape. "I don’t know if there’s something out there, but the more I hear, the more interested I get."

Barkasy, owner of reptile wholesaler Silver City Serpentarium in Sarasota, has made more than 30 nighttime trips to the forest east of the interstate hoping to find this legendary creature that was first reported in Lakeland in 1947. Barkasy and friends strung apples (a favored food of the ape according to some reports) with fishing line between trees and sat in the dark waiting for something to happen. Some nights nothing. A few nights they were chased out of the woods by something in the bushes.

"We would sit back and make bird calls, and a few times you’d smell something like dead animals and then we heard palmettos breaking. It could’ve been a bear or coyote, but who knows?" Barkasy, a former mechanical engineer, says.

On his last expedition Barkasy was told to leave the forest by a state ranger. It turns out the land he was on is owned by Southwest Florida Water Management District and managed by the Myakka State Park. For the men to be there after hours, they need special permission from Swiftmud, which Barkasy hasn’t obtained yet, but says he intends to do in order to install motion cameras in the area.

"I want to know what was out there chasing us out of the woods. There’s not too many animals that’ll stalk you."

Loren Coleman, a cryptozoologist (hunter of hidden animals) who has studied the Myakka case, fully believes what was photographed is not a costume or a fake, or even an escaped zoo animal. (Yet as pointed out by the Japanese primate specialists in May of 2006, the subject expresses NO muscle, body, arm or leg definition typical of apes; Mr. Coleman has been wrong before, especially with the "nape" track he allegedly cast back in the '60's.) He’s bent on finding the photographer, so he can figure out where the citing took place and examine it. (Coleman never found the owner of the anonymous photograph)

The Myakka letter and photos are HERE

Barkasy is helping. He’s discovered that the photographs taken last fall were printed in December 2000 at the Eckerd photo lab at the intersection of Fruitville and Tuttle Roads. He wants to find the elderly woman who took the pictures, but who prefers to remain unknown because she doesn’t "want any fuss or people with guns traipsing around" her house.

It seems the legend of the foul-smelling primate will have to remain hidden a while longer, if not forever, without the help of people who’ve made contact with it. Barkasy believes the number of people who’ve seen this creature is actually greater than one would think.

"Working with animals I hear a lot of things. Cub scout leaders camping on the Manatee River have told me stories, so have hunters," Barkasy said. "A lot of people have sightings, but they sit on them because they don’t want to look like idiots."

Excerpts from the photographer’s anonymous letter sent to the Sheriff’s office:

"I heard the orangutan walk off into the brushes. It had an awful smell and was making deep "woomp" noises."

"For two nights prior, it had been taking apples that my daughter brought down from up north off our back porch."

"We live near I-75 and I’m afraid this orangutan could cause a serious accident if someone hit it."

© East County Observer
Florida's East Manatee and Sarasota Counties Weekly Newspaper
July 19, 2002 Article Courtesy Mary Brown

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