‘Squatch Watch: Sightings Mapped

Posted by: Craig Woolheater on September 19th, 2013

Every now and then a dataset comes along that just has to be mapped. This is one of those times.

Bigfoot. Sasquatch. Skookum. Yahoo. Whatever you call it, the towering man-like ape is a folklore staple. From stories of Yeti in the Himalayas to Wildmen in the Pacific Northwest, people have been talking about and trying to find the creature for ages. Occasionally, some form of evidence – like Patterson’s famous 1967 film – emerges and either feeds our fascination or gets dismissed as a hoax. In either case, it’s easy to see why believers search for proof and skeptics remain doubtful.

Through archival work and reports submitted directly to their website, the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization has amassed a database of thousands of sasquatch sightings. Each report is geocoded and timestamped. Occasionally, even photos and videos of the alleged evidence are included. I’m not quite sure how I stumbled across this, but I’m glad I did.

After crawling the data and converting it to a more convenient format, I mapped and graphed all 3,313 sightings that were reported from 1921 to 2013:

All 3,313 sasquatch sightings reported to the BFRO. Want a larger version? You got it.

Right away you can see that sightings are not evenly distributed. At first glance, it looks a lot like a map of population distribution. After all, you would expect sightings to be the most frequent in areas where there are a lot of people. But a bivariate view of the data (right) shows a very different story. There are distinct regions where sightings are incredibly common, despite a very sparse population. On the other hand, in some of the most densely populated areas sasquatch sightings are exceedingly rare.

Read the entire article here.

About Craig Woolheater
Co-founder of Cryptomundo in 2005. I have appeared in or contributed to the following TV programs, documentaries and films: OLN's Mysterious Encounters: "Caddo Critter", Southern Fried Bigfoot, Travel Channel's Weird Travels: "Bigfoot", History Channel's MonsterQuest: "Swamp Stalker", The Wild Man of the Navidad, Destination America's Monsters and Mysteries in America: Texas Terror - Lake Worth Monster, Animal Planet's Finding Bigfoot: Return to Boggy Creek and Beast of the Bayou.

10 Responses to “‘Squatch Watch: Sightings Mapped”

  1. Steve Schaper via Facebook responds:

    It would be interesting to also subtract tourist population. Tourists are more likely to misidentify what they see.

  2. Julie Dodge via Facebook responds:

    Awesome map!

  3. DWA responds:

    Whoa. A person of scientific bent making an effort to apply science to the anecdotal data. Is common sense breaking out?

    Yes, he includes all the I’m-not-saying-it’s-real caveats. But he is allowing for the possibilities for what are good reasons. Don’t see this nearly enough.

    The first response to his blog is worth picking apart though.

    As xkcd notes, in this day and age, the overwhelming majority of people in the US have a smartphone equipped with camera capable of recording video. And yet after all these years, and all these so-called sightings, nobody has managed to capture any clear evidence whatsoever?

    Skeptoid has a fantastic show on “Bigfoot” too. The story behind the people is quite interesting indeed. It seems like the guy might have perpetrated the spoof to try to provide for his wife when he died.

    Now see, here is how to do shoot-from-hip-ask-no-questions pseudo-science.

    Why doesn’t this guy do his own experiment to prove to himself how woefully inadequate even the latest consumer tech is for getting clear photos of non-habituated wildlife? Particularly when the shooter isn’t ready to shoot…and count on it, no one will be ready to shoot a random, unannounced encounter with something that no one thinks is real?

    And if he needs help and it sounds like he does, there’s this report.

    Cell phone. More time than most will get to use one, from the report. What was that, smarty? And how do you know?

    And again with the Wallace-is-bigfoot thing. Please. Read a book first. Thinking, also good.

  4. dconstrukt responds:

    now THIS is awesome.

    Best stuff I’ve seen posted on here in…. well…. as long as I can remember.

    Interesting the points.

    pacific northwest everyone knows.

    the east coast mountain areas into texas.

    those seem to be the largest collections.

    would make sense, they’re the densest forest regions.

    many in northern fla…. “skunk ape”, (but with many animals let loose during hurricane andrew etc. I wonder how many are chimps vs. something new.)

    now, get more detailed with the data… sightings based on time of year…. known food patterns… etc.

    this could be huge.

  5. Goodfoot responds:

    This is some fine, fine stuff. And to me, it strongly suggests a much larger population than nearly anyone is willing to accept.

    And for each sighting, how many near misses, i.e., just missed encountering one another?

  6. springheeledjack responds:

    This is very cool. I’ve seen something similar laid out in connection with rainfall and available food, but this is nice. And yes, this is what research should be doing with Bigfoot data, looking for patterns and commonalities in order to build a better search grid.

    As to the cell phone bit: it’s another invalid argument just because it “seems” like it should be that easy. Anyone ever tried to do it? Yes, I have. Pick a random moment while you’re in the middle of anything and try to get your phone out, get to the camera, turn it on and get a decent shot. It’s not as easy or as quick as you think.

    Secondly, even if you have done it, now add the extra adrenalin rush that goes with even thinking you’re seeing something that doesn’t or shouldn’t exist. Especially if you’re out in the open and in proximity to it. Take all of that into account and it doesn’t surprise me we’ve got nothing legit at all.

    Besides, in this day and age of the capability of the average high school kid (and probably younger) to be able to create stills and videos with all the tech, I’ve just about given up on photos and video as any sort of legitimate proof of cryptids anyway. The fakes are getting tougher to spot and easier and easier to throw together.

  7. Goodfoot responds:

    The smaller spikes in the mid-1970s and the larger one beginning right around 2000 I find very interesting. Anyone have any thoughts on that?

  8. Insanity responds:

    I am not sure if many people realize that many mobile devices, iphones, smartphones, etc…, the cameras have a fix lens and are unable to do an optical zoom prior to the picture being taken. A digital zoom, which is simply enlarging the photo after it has been taken, is not the same quality as an optical zoom prior.

    The new iPhone 5 has/will have an 8 MP camera, yet I believe 35mm can be equivalent of upwards to 16 MP and larger film formats even more. Film photography can still capture a greater resolution than digital, but digital is easier for most people to use.

  9. Goodfoot responds:


    First paragraph: incorrect. The optical zoom is used PRIOR to the photo being captured, not after. Once the picture is taken, the lens has already done its job.

    Second paragraph: it is not necessarily true that a film camera can capture a more detailed picture than a digital one; digital cameras are limited by resolution within the limits of the pixelation. Film cameras are similarly limited by the grain of the specific film; the faster the film, the more grain in the way of enlargement. It’s more complex than that, but the principle is correct.

    And in wooded areas, in shade or broken sunlight, folks are more likely to be using a faster film speed, because they are more efficient at capturing images in reduced lighting conditions.

  10. Insanity responds:


    I may have muddled my words a bit, but I was not suggesting that an optical zoom could be done after a picture had been taken.

    What I was saying is that as most camera phone devices have only a fixed lens and lack a true optical zoom lens, and thus cannot perform any optical zoom of the scenery. Additionally most have a very short focal length of the lens. Essentially these type of devices may be good for close range photography, but not for long range where a true optical zoom is required.

    My muddling may have been saying using a digital zoom or what is really an enlargement of the picture can be done afterwards. As the pixels are enlarged in this process, the quality of the image is always reduced. Conversely, with an optical zoom, as the lens is focusing prior to the picture being taken, the quality is not reduced. A digitally zoomed, or enlarged photo will quite often, if not always, be of inferior quality in comparison to the same scenery taken with a true optical zoom lens.

    Wikipedia has an example of the degradation that occurs when using a digital zoom vs an optical zoom:

    Most camera phone devices may be able to take quality pictures of subjects in close range, but unlikely to be able to do so if the subject is some distance away.

    It is simply my opinion that of those saying we should by now have a good clear images of Sasquatch due to the belief held that everyone has a camera now, which is probably inaccurate in itself, is somewhat flawed when the most camera phone devices are probably not capable of capturing a clear image of a subject that is a long distance away. Blurry images of such are due to limits of the device and an enlargement of the picture, nothing supernatural about the subject.

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