Cryptid Profile: Pinky (AKA: The St. Johns River Monster)
On May 10th, 1975 at 10am, near Jacksonville Florida, a boat carrying five people down the St. Johns River came across an unknown creature. The passengers of the boat stated that what they saw had been much like a dragon with a long neck, it raised its head out of the water quickly and was gone just as fast. The five individuals clearly saw the creature only 20ft away and were left stunned. But this wasn’t the first time the creature made itself known. As far back as the mid 50’s, the St. Johns River Monster had been giving a shock to locals fisherman and residents of the area.
Between 1955 and 1961, there were a considerable amount of sightings of the river monster. A majority of the sightings took place between Astor Park and Lake Monroe. One witness claimed that he saw the monster out of the water near the edge of the river. He stated that it was eating the large plants growing close to the water. As the monster moved around, it left a flat and smashed path of vegetation below it. It also easily crushed bushes and moved a considerable amount of earth. Another sighting came from two fishermen out on the St. Johns River. The two men claimed to be sitting in their boat when a great bubbling came up from water beneath them. Suddenly, the bubbling turned into a great force and the boat was almost flipped over. The men quickly raced towards shore.
In the 60’s, a young woman by the name of Mary Lou Richardson was out bow hunting with her father and friend near the St. Johns River. When the trio got closer to the rivers edge, Mary noticed something large swimming through the water and brought it to the attention of her father and friend. All three witnesses stated that the creature was an extremely odd looking animal with a large flat head sitting upon a somewhat long neck. The creature looked almost like that of a dinosaur. During that same day, four other separate groups of people sighted the exact same looking creature in the same stretch of river originally seen by Miss Richardson. This sighting was later retold to famous Cryptozoologist Ivan T. Sanderson who then wrote an article about the whole thing for the magazine Argosy.
The clearest description of the river monster comes from one of the 5 boaters in 1975. Dorthy Abram stated that the monster looked almost like a dinosaur but that its skin was pulled “back” so tight, that you could see almost all of its bones. The head, which sat on the top of a 3ft long neck, was almost the size of a full grown mans, and sitting on top of it were two snail-like horns that each had a little bone like knob at the end. On each side of the head, there were flaps of skin that hung down over what appeared to be gills. The mouth was large and was turned downward, and the eyes were slanted and very dark. The skin was almost pink in color, much like that of boiled shrimp. It is this defining feature that gave the St. Johns River Monster its new nickname, Pinky.
The other four passengers on the boat (including Abrams’ husband Charles) all agreed that Pinky looked almost prehistoric. As if a dinosaur walked right out of the past and ended up directly in front of them. All five individuals stated that when the monster submerged back into the river, it left absolutely no ripple on the surface of the water.
Eventually, as the years went on, fewer sightings of Pinky were made. It seemed as if years passed between sightings and eventually they seemed to stop all together. Because of this, fishermen and residents along the river believed that Pinky may have died. But that doesn’t mean that a monster has stopped residing in the St. Johns River. Sporadic monster sightings continue to this day from Florida residents. Although these sightings make no mention to a creature with pink skin and clearly seen bones. The modern reports of river monsters talk about what appears to be large serpent like creatures that resemble giant eels or snakes.
So what was the monster known as Pinky? Some cryptozoologists today believe that the St. Johns River Monster could have been a new species of giant salamander. The Japanese giant salamander can grow to a length of 5ft long and the Chinese giant salamander can grow to a length of 6ft long. Both species can also have a pink skin color due to their diet. It is not unbelievable that a North American sub-species could grow larger than this. Others claim that Pinky could have been a large albino manatee, alligator, or pink dolphin. Still others believe that the monster was a surviving species of Thescelosaurus neglectus (a dinosaur that lived during the Late Cretaceous period in North America). These dinosaurs could grow to be 11ft long and were related to Iguanodons.
At 310 miles long, the St. Johns River is the longest river in Florida. The mouth of the river begins at the Atlantic Ocean, so this opens up the possibility that Pinky is originally from the open ocean and every once in a while, swam up the river where witnesses were able to lay eyes upon it. Eventually, the creature could have made its way back out to the ocean and simply chose never to return.
Whatever Pinky was, it is fondly remembered for being one of the most original river monsters to date. It’s pink skin and skeletal appearance set it aside from its cold gray snake like cousins found throughout the world.
-The Pine Barrens Institute
*Image Credit: Google