Pinky Expedition: Investigative Breakthrough

Posted by: Loren Coleman on March 14th, 2008

Sometimes when investigating cryptids, it’s not how you ask but who and what you are asking about that gets some more insightful answers. It was a good day in the Pinky expedition journey.

On Thursday, March 13, 2008, besides checking out more wildlife along the St. Johns River and at the Zoological Park of Sanford, I had a major investigative breakthrough.

I decided to stop by the Historical Society of Sanford, to ask about sightings of “Pinky,” the alleged dinosaur of Florida. I was interested to find out if any old news archives might exist. What I stumbled into was more significant.

What I discovered almost immediately was a friendly and open staff, specifically Irma the helpful receptionist and Alicia Clarke, the Curator. I found that fertile ground for exploration existed here, and Ms. Clarke soon put me in touch with famed local author Charlie Carlson, whose Weird Florida is a well-known nationally-published book that quickly sells out at book outlets around the state.


From talking to the colorful and friendly Charlie, I quickly understood what has happened. “Pinky,” which has been used in the cryptozoological literature since 1975, is unused in Florida. What I see has occurred here is a classic “name game.” I totally appreciate the time Charlie gave me, and especially the “lightbulb” moments he assisted me in having.


The dynamic Charlie Carlson is the lightning rod for Florida’s stories of the strange.

In this area of Florida, where I have been concentrating my on-the-water and shore searching, from the Blue Springs State Park (highly recommended) to Lake Monroe and beyond, I found this cryptid is not called “Pinky” but the “St. Johns Monster.” Hiding in plain sight, I feel, sightings have been happening up and down this area of the St. Johns River and being filed in various folders, so to speak.

Charlie shared that he has not been writing about these encounters as “Pinky,” per se, but merely as “lake monster” or “river monster” reports.

Curator Clarke told me than when I asked about “bipedal dinosaur” or “Pinky” sightings, my questions didn’t connect because she has always thought of them as their local lake monster, as she directly said to me, “more like Nessie than Mokele-mbembe.”

Charlie Carlson related that he has written about these incidents in 1997, in his locally published book, Strange Florida (Volume 1).

On Carlson’s website (here), he gives this overview of his book’s contribution. As you read it, you can see that the “St. Johns River” and the 1950s-1970s reports of Pinky overlap:



Between 1955 and 1961, there were numerous reports in Florida newspapers, of a monster in the St. Johns River. The sightings came from a variety of witnesses, some native commercial fishermen, and others from new transplants to Florida. All reported seeing a giant creature, which descriptions fit either a brontosaurus or big manatee-like thing, depending on who is doing the reporting.

Most sightings occurred between Astor Park and Lake Monroe, with the center of the alleged sightings around the Blue Springs area. The Blue Springs area is a prime manatee habitat. One Lake County man claimed to have seen the monster on land grazing on plants. He reported that the monster left a wide, mashed-down, path through the bushes. The animal’s skin was described as gray and elephant-like and very leather-looking. A couple of bass fisherman claimed that the monster had almost tipped over their boat. No reports have surfaced since the early 1960s, but a related story is very curious.

In 1975, a group of pleasure boaters on the St. Johns River near Jacksonville, claimed to have seen a dragon-like creature, that reared its head from the river, then disappeared into the deep water. It was described as having a head like a giant snail, with two horns.

In an old 1891 newspaper report, a sea-serpent chased bathers from the ocean on Jacksonville beach. That marine monster was said to have had a dog-like head and a long skinny neck.

The most bizarre story of Florida sea-serpents was reported by some scuba divers in 1962, off the Gulf coast near Pensacola. In that incident, the alleged monster attacked the divers and over-turned their small boat, and allegedly killed all but one of the men. The surviving victim claimed that the creature had a long, rigid, ten foot neck, like a telephone pole. It had a head with small eyes, but a very wide mouth and whipped about like a large snake.

Evidence of a Florida marine monster was hauled up in 1885, from the New River Inlet. A ship’s anchor brought up the carcass of a creature with a long neck which resembled an extinct plesiosaur, very much like the descriptions given for the infamous Lock Ness monster.

Who knows what lurks beneath Florida’s waters, something to think about on your next swimming trip.

Of course, lets not discount Florida’s gator population, some alligators grow to enormous lengths, and there a several records of gators eating humans, and those are only the cases we know about–perhaps some of Florida’s missing persons have fell victim to a big gator’s appetite. The alligator is truly a prehistoric creature, a living dinosaur, perhaps there are some other prehistoric creatures that still exist, that we don’t know of, and which on occasion rise to the surface of Florida’s waters. ~ Charlie Carlson

Okay, this throws it back to the manatee thread, but today, I have to look into alligators a little more deeply too.

More tomorrow….

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

13 Responses to “Pinky Expedition: Investigative Breakthrough”

  1. kittenz responds:

    Maybe someone saw an unusually colored alligator, an albino or something. Or – hmm – an animal grazing on the banks, leaving a wide trail of smashed vegetation. I wonder if it could even be an elephant that someone saw?

  2. tomdee27 responds:

    Thanks for the update Loren!

  3. SOCALcryptid responds:

    Interesting post Loren. You keep bringing up alligators which is understandable. Have you gave any thought to the American Crocodile in some of the cases. They were still around in the 1960’s and definitely in the 1880’s in Florida. They are on the endangered list now and very hard to find these days. This may be a coincidence but the American Crocodile and the Pinky sightings seem to have disappeared along the same time line. This is something I have been thinking about while reading your posts on this expedition.

  4. PhotoExpert responds:

    Loren–It sounds as if Charlie has given some clarity to your search. At least you have some direction in which to concentrate your limited time. It sounds like you have some traction now.

    By the way, I hope our readers here at Cryptomundo are enjoying your reports as much as I am.

    I also noticed that you are combining a little pleasure with business. That is always a plus, especially when you hit a dead end. The dino park was pretty cool and I enjoyed those photos. Little breaks like that, that are related to your quest but also provide a some entertainment, tend to clear the ol’ brain and jump start new ideas.

    Very interesting stuff and a pleasure to read. Keep up the good work! And we will all be tuning in to see what tomorrow will bring. From reading your posts, it is almost as if we are there with you!

  5. fmurphy1970 responds:


    interesting that one account of the St John’s River monster was described as being like a gaint snail with two horns. Some eye witness accounts of the Loch Ness monster over here in Scotland, describe a shape-shifting creature like a large aquatic slug with two strange tubes or horns on it’s head. I have long thought that a huge species of unknown invertebrate was responsible for Nessie sightings. The St John’s River monster could be an invertebrate, but going by the descriptions, there could be more than one cryptid in the area.
    Thanks for these very interesting reports.

  6. Saint Vitus responds:

    The Weird Florida book also mentions oar fish and sturgeons as possible explanations for the St. Johns River Monster. The Alligator Gar is another fish found in the region that can get quite huge in size. As far as I know, the American Crocodiles mentioned by SoCal Cryptid have only been found in the extreme southern portion of the state.

  7. planettom responds:

    Saint Vitus, you brought back an old memory…I took part in a fishing tournament many years ago here in TX, Galveston Bay area and I caught an alligator gar. It took me almost 30 minutes to get him up to the boat, we shot it in the head with a .22 and tied him up to the boat. He measured in at 5’1″, not even good enough for third place! It was quite a fish tale I will never forget. These things do get huge! I have a picture somewhere….

  8. SOCALcryptid responds:

    Saint Vitus, thanks for the info. on the American Croc. This explains why they are not mentioned.

  9. kittenz responds:

    I wonder if Giant Squids ever manage to find their way into rivers? A Giant Squid couls be a pinkish color, or even a variable color, and they have a number of protuberaces on their bodies that maybe could be misinterpreted as “horns like those of a snail”.

    The comparison with the Loch Ness Monster is interesting, too. One of the possible explanations for Nessie that I find kind of plausible is that the creatures may be giant snails (or more likely slugs). As I recall, Sanderson mentioned that as a possiblity for Nessie too.

  10. Blue Mako responds:

    Unfortunately, kittenz, iirc cephalopods can’t live in fresh water…

  11. mfs responds:


    As always your on-the-site investigative expeditions are worth the read. The next best thing to actually being there. It’s anybodys guess as to the identity of the unknown creature. I know a saurapod-like creature may be extreme but then again?

    In regards to the bizaare story of an alleged attack on scuba divers by a Florida sea-serpent one may want to peruse this months issue of FATE Magazine as it has an updated write-up on the incident.

  12. kittenz responds:

    Yeah I know, Blue Mako. But I wonder if any of them ever wander upstream into rivers, like sharks do sometimes. I know they would not survive there for long, but an out-of-place one in a river would probably cause a spate of cryptid sightings.

  13. cryptidsrus responds:

    Very interesting information, as usual, Loren.
    I’m enjoying your reports.

    Will order Weird Florida as soon as possible.

Sorry. Comments have been closed.

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