What is this thing? Sea creature ‘grunting’ off Florida park perplexes social media
The Charlotte Observer September 19, 2022
(Tribune News Service) — A mysterious creature estimated at 15 feet in length was seen undulating in waters off a city park in Edgewater, Fla., and even video is not helping with a quick identification.
Joe Tiller reports he was on the water with his wife, April, when they recorded “the monster” Sept. 9 in the Indian River North at Menard-May Park. Edgewater is about 60 miles northeast of Orlando.
He thought it was a very big manatee, but something wasn’t quite right.
“In these waters, it’s not very uncommon to see them,” Tiller told McClatchy News. “This one looked very different! It had huge muscles like shoulders on a bull! It was as if it was rolling its shoulders like a bear under water! We did not see any fur, or head, or hands and feet.”
Tiller, a boat maker with Boston Whaler, says he has lived in the area 5 years and has never seen anything like it. He estimated the creature was 12 to 15 feet long — and it was “grunting.”
The sight were so disconcerting, the couple decided to steer clear of the hulk as it headed toward a nearby channel, he said.
Tiller shared his video Sept. 9 with the Birds and Wildlife in Florida Facebook group and asked for help identifying the creature. His video has since been viewed nearly 70,000 times, with no clear answer.
Guesses have ranged from a manatee (struggling at low tide) to a black bear crossing the river. Others called it just plain “scary” and didn’t offer a guess.
“I can’t find any video online that shows manatees to look like this with rolling shoulders,” Tiller said. “The shoulders were terrifying and very powerful looking! Never have I seen a manatee look or act like this!”
McClatchy News shared Tiller’s video with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which is having a marine life expert review the footage for a possible identification.
Manatees, also known as “sea cows,” are aquatic mammals native to Florida, and they typically grow to 10 feet and around 1,000 pounds, FWC reports. However, some as big as 13 feet long and 3,500 pounds have been found, the agency reports.
Manatees have two fore limb flippers and “a large, round, flattened paddle-shaped tail is used for swimming,” FWC reports. Algae grows on their backs, and their skin is typically wrinkled and “leathery looking,” experts say.
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