Myths & Legends of the Florida Everglades
By Jungle Erv • December 19, 2018
Once you’ve been on an Airboat Tour of the Florida Everglades, you’ll feel it: a taste of the mysterious, a nudge of otherworldly awe, and a respect for the natural beauty that surrounds you. And it makes sense- the Everglades remains one of America’s most unique protected natural treasures, and still holds plenty of secrets in its depths. Generations of legends have spoken of far more mysterious things than alligators lurking in the grasses and mangroves of the Everglades. Here are just a few of those myths and legends that still have a foothold within local culture:
The Skunk Ape
A distant cousin to Bigfoot, the Skunk Ape is probably the most often-reported creature sighting in the Florida Everglades today. Characterized by an oversized humanoid form, masses of red hair, and a foul-smelling odor, the Skunk Ape is a generally solitary creature. Generations of Native Americans have reported similar sightings over their hundreds of years of familiarity with the land.
This isn’t as much myth or legend as it is a verifiable, but unexplainable, fact. Strange disappearances are known to happen in the area called the Bermuda Triangle, and the Everglades marks the corner of that area. In 1945, a training patrol of five aircraft from Grumman vanished while flying over the area; a Navy airplane that went in search of the missing aircraft also disappeared. No trace of this lost patrol was ever discovered. Hundreds of other people have gone missing in the general area, as well.
The Ghost Ship
In the 1900’s, local newspapers reported sightings of a ghost ship drifting along in the Everglades among the sawgrass; since then, many other people have reported seeing this ship. Legend has it that a ship full of privateers was caught in a current and swept into the Everglades, where all of the sailors eventually died; their spirits are doomed to continue sailing the shallow waters of the Everglades to atone for their poor life choices.
The Red-Eyed Ghost Boy
Some stories speak of a ghost boy who lives below the surface of the Everglades’ waters; his red glowing eyes are his only distinguishing feature. Legend has it that the red-eyed ghost boy is the spirit of a child who drowned in the Everglades years ago.
A Convenient Hiding Place
One of Al Capone’s bootlegging operations was located in an Everglades ghost town, and many other criminals are said to have taken refuge here in years past when all it took to disappear off grid was to go to a geographically isolated location. Today, rumor has it that it’s still a convenient dumping spot for those involved in organized crime; unknown homicide victims are discovered in the Everglades relatively often, and their stories are rarely uncovered.
The good news? You’re unlikely to see a Skunk Ape or a glowing-eyed spirit under the water on one of our Airboat Tours, and none of our passengers have ever disappeared out of thin air- but you’re guaranteed to see spellbinding views and get a taste of the area’s mysterious beauty for yourself.