Wednesday, December 7, 2022

The Appearance of the Clearwater Monster

Author: B. Holt

“30+ Things to do in Clearwater Beach"

 In 1948, random, strange footprints began to appear on Clearwater Beach in Clearwater, Florida. It was said that the footprints appeared to be 14 inches long and 11 inches wide with only three toes. The people of the small town were confused and bewildered by the appearance of the footprints. After a year passed, the “monster” began to start a path. The pathway started on Clearwater Beach, but the monster’s footprints ended up in Indian Rocks, Sarasota, St Petersburg, and Courtney Campbell Causeway. One night, in 1949, according to an article written by Rick Spillman called, “Old-Three Toes- The Giant Penguin of Clearwater Beach, Florida” stated that the monster went on a 100-mile rampage, knocking over lifeguard stands and leaving feathers or “something unearthly.”

"Remember the Clearwater Monster? Its Having a Moment."

It wasn’t very long before people started filing reports claiming that they saw the monster. An article by Lenny Flank entitled “The Clearwater Beach Monster” stated that a local couple saw a “15-foot, bird-like, creature floating in the water”. Another report from Flank’s article stated that another couple “encountered a large, hairy creature with a head like a rhinoceros.” Another report of the creature from the article said the creature looked like a “wild boar.” 

No one knew what this creature could possibly be. That’s where Ivan T. Sanderson, came into play. Sanderson was a well-known zoologist who gave an expert opinion on the monster.  Sanderson state that the monster was a pre-historic, giant penguin. In an article about the Clearwater Monster by James Felton called, “The Giant Penguin Hoax That Fooled Florida for 10 Whole Years” stated that Sanderson ruled that a hoax was very unlikely and the tracks couldn’t have been hand-made. Ever since Sanderson ruled that a hoax was unlikely, the monster caught the attention of the world and the monster was basically a celebrity. 

A Reddit post by Ivan Zlax entitled “The Clearwater Monster” stated that the monster was a hoax and was revealed 40 years later. You’re probably thinking, how was this monster with several different sightings a hoax? Well, local pranksters and employees at an auto repair store, Tony Signorini and his boss Al Williams ended up admitting decades later that they were the Clearwater Monster. In another article by Jefferey Scott called, “Clearwater’s Giant Penguin Mystery” explained that Signorini and Williams made the tracks with iron castings and would leave imprints on the wet sand. 

Even though Signorini and Williams admitted to being the Clearwater Monster, according to that same article by Jeffery Scott, there were people saying they saw the monster standing in the tracks imprinted on the beach. So, I guess some things are still unexplained.
To show you that the Clearwater Monster was actually compared to a giant penguin, in 2007, a student at North Carolina State University named Julia Clarke described the fossils of the giant penguin as a monster. It was stated that the giant penguin was supposedly “1.5 meters tall and weighed the same as a human.” No modern creature or penguin is that large, so it would have to had existed millions of years ago. The Clearwater Monster and the giant penguin share a lot of similarities, such as their size, they both have three toes, and had feathers or bird-like structures. Also, a paleontologist named Leigh Love actually discover the fossils of the giant penguin. Researchers say that these enormous penguins were probably evolved in Palaeocene epoch, which was 56-66 million years ago. There have also been multiple fossils of similar giant penguin such as, the Crossvailla species which was found in New Zealand.
“The Oldest Fossilized Giant Penguin” 

Works Cited:

“30+ Things to do in Clearwater Beach”, GuidedbyDestiny 5 October. 2022,

Spilman, Rick. “Old Three Toes- The Giant Penguin of Clearwater Beach, Florida.” Oldsaltblog. September.20.2020. Accessed 17 Oct. 2022.

Scott, Jeffery. “Clearwater’s Giant Penguin Mystery.” Florida Zone Blogspot. April.3.2014. Accessed 17 Oct. 2022.

Felton, James. “The Giant Penguin Hoax That Fooled Florida for 10 Whole Years.” Iflscience. August. 24. 2022. Accessed Oct 17. 2022.

Flank, Lenny. “The Clearwater Beach Monster.” LennyFlankWordPress. January. 13. 2022. Accessed on October 18. 2022.

Klinkenberg, Jeff. “Remember the Clearwater Monster? Its Having a Moment”, Tampa Bay Times, 5 January. 2021,

“The Oldest Fossilized Giant Penguin”, Geologyin, Accessed on 26 October.2022,  

Zlax, Ivan. “The Clearwater Monster.” Reddit. October.22.2021. Accessed on October 18th. 2022.

Links for Further Research:

Love, Leigh. “Human Sized Fossils Found in New Zealand.” The Guardian. August.14.2019. Accessed on October 26, 2022

Clarke, Julia. “Discovery of Giant Penguins Shakes Theories on March of Evolution.” The Age. June.27.2007. Accessed on October 26, 2022.

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