Florida’s Giant Penguin Hoax

 | Grace Higgins

During February 1948, the residents of a small town in Florida flocked to the Gulf beach. And it was not to look at the sea or enjoy some dolphin watching, no, it was to look at the evidence of a completely different type of beast. The mysterious giant three-toed footprints in the sand measured over 14 inches long and 15 inches across!


And to make it even scarier the prints came out of the ocean, followed the beach for about 2 miles before disappearing back into the ocean. The whole thing was covered by news agencies and scientists turned up to investigate. The prints were turned into castes for safekeeping and it was estimated that due to their depth the creature must weigh over 2000 pounds. Yet no one could figure out what had left them.

Suddenly the prints started to appear continuously up and down the coast, even on a small nearby island also. A couple of times the prints appeared further north up the Suwannee River which caused mass panic. A story emerged of the beast, nicknamed the Clearwater Monster, knocking over a lifeguard’s stand. There were even feathers left stuck to the stand, everything to make the hoax even better.

Students announced they had seen the massive creature swimming up the river near the Clearwater Bridge, something furry that resembled a boar. Ivan Sanderson a decorated zoologist came to study the mysterious Old Three Toes and declared that the creature was indeed real. He announced that it was definitely not a hoax and all evidence suggested a previously unknown species of giant penguins. Most likely this giant penguin was 15 feet tall!

The hoax continued for 10 years, prints of the giant penguin were seen regularly but nobody ever saw the giant penguin. If they had they would have found Tony Signorini jumping around in a lead metal boot. Yes, he had fooled everyone with his prankster boss Al Williams, in fact, Signorini did not reveal the hoax until 15 years later.