The Muck Monster

A little over eight years ago a strange creature made an appearance in Florida. I wrote about the monster in my first book. The following is an excerpt:

In August 2009, a strange, unexplained creature captured the imagination and attention of Floridians—shortly thereafter, it took the internet by storm. Dubbed “The Elusive Muck Monster,” the creature rapidly rose to fame and became such a sensation that it even made David Letterman’s Top Ten List.1

In a South Florida lagoon, what appeared to be a large, serpentine creature was captured on video; the video of the creature quickly went viral. The website of WPTV of West Palm Beach had over 7 million clicks on the story in a week—the most views of any story in station history.2

Greg Reynolds and Don Serrano of the non-profit organization LagoonKeepers filmed the creature in Lake Worth Lagoon. LagoonKeepers is an organization dedicated to the cleaning and maintenance of West Palm Beach County waterways. The pair were on a call in Lake Worth Lagoon for the purpose of removing a log from the water. The two quickly found out that this was no log—it was a living creature.3

Reynolds and Serrano saw the creature moving just underneath the water. As the animal swam, it created a large wake. Reynolds began filming the strange animal and the pair tried catching up to it; but each time they got close, within about 10 feet, it dove into the water. After the incident, Reynolds uploaded the video that he had recorded onto the LagoonKeepers website.4,5 The rest is history.

Commercializing the Creature

The economic potential of having a cryptid in a Florida lagoon is too much to ignore. LagoonKeepers began using the creature’s likeness as a means of revenue to support its organization—a non-profit. As of this writing, T-shirts bearing a cartoon image of the Muck Monster are being sold on lagoonkeepers.org.6

West Palm Beach officials granted the Muck Monster an official residency status; no doubt an attempt to capitalize on the hoopla created by the viral video. In short order, the city began setting up feeding and viewing stations for those hoping to catch a glimpse the creature.7

“This has actually become a pretty serious business,” Mayor Lois Frankel said in an interview with a local newspaper. She went on to give her opinion on what could be behind the Muck Monster phenomenon. “In all seriousness, what I think has happened is that, because of all of the work on the waterfront, the rebuilding of the seawall and all the construction going down there, it has stirred up this creature.”8

Although the creature doesn’t know, it may soon have a name legally protected by trademark status. The name, “Muckie,” has a trademark pending.9 One can only hope that the Muck Monster will not become tangled up in the same kind of ridiculous trademark dispute that has befallen the monster in Lake Memphremagog, Vermont.10

Explanations

Cryptozoologists have largely shied away from the Muck Monster; caution has been taken, and rightfully so. With the circus-like atmosphere surrounding the animal and the runaway commercialism, it would be easy to come away looking foolish. However, as cautious as I like to be with pictures and videos, the Reynolds video speaks for itself. Something was is Lake Worth Lagoon.

The video footage was examined by Thomas Reinert, a marine biologist who works for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. Reinert could not identify the creature in the video. He does not believe that a conclusion can be reached regarding the animal’s identity until more evidence is obtained.11

Thomas Reinert is right; a conclusion cannot be reached—but I would offer this guess: the Muck Monster might be a large, Burmese python. These invasive species, originally introduced into the wild by irresponsible exotic pet owners, have taken root and thrived in South Florida. South Florida’s tropical climate, swamps, and lush vegetation provide a more-than-adequate habitat for the massive snakes. With hot weather year round, Burmese pythons are able to reach immense sizes in South Florida.

Many were stunned in 2005 when the Associated Press released a photograph taken in the Everglades showing the carcass of a Burmese python, 13 feet in length, with a dead alligator protruding from its midsection. The alligator was six feet long! Incredibly, pythons living in South Florida are capable of attaining the size necessary to prey upon alligators.12

It is hard to say what Greg Reynolds and Don Serrano saw in Lake Worth Lagoon in August of 2009. They saw something, something alive; their video confirms it. At this time though, all we can do is speculate on its identity.

End Notes

  1. “The Story of the Muck Monster.” LagoonKeepers. Accessed September 7, 2015. http://www.lagoonkeepers.org/muck-monster.html.
  2. LagoonKeepers, “The Story of the Muck Monster.”
  3. M. Dee Dubroff. “What Is the Elusive Florida Lagoon Muck Monster?” Digital Journal. August 24, 2009. Accessed September 7, 2015. http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/278151.
  4. Dubroff, “What Is the Elusive Florida Lagoon Muck Monster?”
  5. LagoonKeepers, “The Story of the Muck Monster.”
  6. Ibid.
  7. Todd Wright. “The Muck Monster Has an Official Home.” NBC 6 South Florida. September 22, 2009. Accessed September 7, 2015. http://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local/The-Muck-Monster-Has-an-Official-Home-60060202.html.
  8. Wright, “The Muck Monster Has an Official Home.”
  9. Ibid.
  10. Robin Smith. “Hands Off My Memphre, Says Woman.” Log Cabin Chronicles. Accessed January 7, 2015. http://www.tomifobia.com/mahoney/robin_smith.txt.
  11. LagoonKeepers, “The Story of the Muck Monster.”
  12. “Gator-guzzling Python Comes to Messy End.” Msnbc.com. October 5, 2005. Accessed September 7, 2015. http://www.nbcnews.com/id/9600151.

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