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COUNTY: Manatee County
LOCATION DETAILS: Field on east side of highway, adjacent to northbound lanes of I-75.
NEAREST TOWN: Between Sarasota & Bradenton, Florida
NEAREST ROAD: Field adjacent to northbound lanes of I-75
OBSERVED: Large apelike creature moving very slowly in a southernly direction through a large field of palmetto, scrub brush, and isolated palm trees.
OTHER WITNESSES: My husband and I. I spotted the creature and pointed it out to him. We were driving north at approximately 65-70 m.p.h.
TIME AND CONDITIONS: Approximately 9:00 a.m.
Clear and sunny morning, low humidity, temperature in the 70's.
ENVIRONMENT: Field appeared to consist mainly of palmetto, low scrub brush, and isolated palm trees. The creature was bipedal and was moving very slowly in a southernly direction and was situated near a large highway billboard. This area is in close proximity to Myakka State Park.
Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator Caroline Curtis:
The witnesses are not from this area and were visiting family.
The figure was seen for just a few seconds. The witnesses were moving at 70 mph. They could not provide much detail as to the features, etc. Their impression was that it was tall, uniformly brownish in color, and the brush/palmettos came up to its thighs.
In the area it was briefly observed, the only possible witnesses would be passing motorists.
I drove to the location, not able to identify the exact billboard but able to observe the general area. The Manatee River and several creeks are close by. Several parks are nearby including Myakka River, Manatee Lake and Duett. Farms and ranches are abundant, along with a lot of road construction and new housing developments.
The original submission to the BFRO showed awareness of the "Myakka Skunk-Ape" photos.
The BFRO is certain that the "Myakka Skunk-Ape" photos are fake, due to prior contact with the person who came up with the photos.
One year prior to him trying to hype and markets the photos (and its accompanying, "anonymous" letter), the man, named David Barkasay, contacted the BFRO asking how much photos like these would be worth. It was clear at that time that he had something up his sleeve, so when he came back to the BFRO year later saying his friend recently received some photos from an "anonymous" source, it was obvious what was going on.
Also, the original Myakka Skunk-Ape photos included randomly placed stars in the night sky in the background. When this issue pointed out to him, Barkasay came back with a new set of photos, without the fake stars in the background. He claimed the fake stars were caused by dust on the glass of the copy machine. It was obvious that the fake stars were intended to be stars.
Also, the wife of the friend who supposedly received the fake photos through his work place at an animal control office near Myakka, admitted over the phone that the photos were fake and created by Barkasay.
About BFRO Investigator Caroline Curtis:
- Worked as an Assistant to a Circuit Court Judge in Florida for thirteen years
- An avid outdoorswoman, growing up in the UP of Michigan on a family-owned fishing and hunting resort. Currently lives in the Hiawatha National Forest
- Certified Visual Tracker, Level 1
- Attended and assisted with numerous public and private BFRO expeditions
- She and the Florida BFRO organized South Florida Expedition 2008, North Florida Expedition 2008 and Central Florida Expedition in 2009.
- She and the Michigan BFRO organized the Lower-Michigan Expedition in 2011, Michigan UP Expeditions in 2012, 2013 and 2015. She will be co-organizing the 2016 Michigan UP Expedition in October.