Honey Island Swamp is one of the most natural and untarnished habitats in the United States. Located in St. Tammany Parish, this marshland earned its name from the swarms of honeybees found near the surrounding areas. It is bordered by U.S. 11 on its north side, the Pearl River on its east side, Lake Borgne on its south side, and West Pearl River on its west side.
Honey Island Swamp spans over 70,000 acres, measuring in over 20 miles long and 7 miles wide, with 35, 619 of those acres’ being government sanctioned by the Pearl River Wildlife Management Area in order to protect the local wildlife that thrives there.
The Honey Island Swamp is rich in wildlife and is the home of many different species, including but not limited to: alligators, wild boars, black bears, racoons, nutrias, owls, eagles, snakes, turtles, and, of course, fish. Alligators can often be seen lounging on the banks and bathing in the sun. The most common sightings include red wolves, white tail deer, and wild boar, but only a select few have been able to spot the elusive Florida cougar. Birds are often seen tangled in the trees as visitors drift by underneath, including Yellow-crowned Night Herons, White Ibises, and Anhinga.
Considered a trademark of Louisiana culture, Crawfish often attract their fair share of attention to this marshland, but the wide variety of fish keep people coming back. Fishermen can often find an abundance of flathead catfish, bluegill, sunfish, largemouth bass, and buffalo fish under the water of Honey Island Swamp.
The Plant Life
Along with animal species, the Honey Island Swamp possesses a wide variety of plants, including poisonous and nonpoisonous. Large Bald Cypress and Birch trees assist in creating much-needed shade and shadows on the water throughout the dense forest. Spanish Moss is seen everywhere, spreading its tendrils throughout the murky tea-colored waters.
Honey Island Swamp Monster
According to Louisiana folklore, the Honey Island Swamp is home to its very own cyprid, referred to as the Honey Island Swamp Monster. The myth describes the ape-like creature as 7 feet tall, covered in grey hair with red or yellow eyes, and footprints consisting of three or four webbed toes.
How did the monster end up in Louisiana? Legend has it a train wreck involving a travel circus resulted in a group of chimpanzees escaping into the swampland, forcing them to adapt to their surrounding areas. The first claimed sighting of this bigfoot-like creature was by wildlife photographer, Harlen Ford, in 1963. The myth, however, did not fully form until 1980 when a reel of what was believed to be video evidence of this monster was found in his belongings. Strange footprints found in 1974 only fueled the legend, cementing the Honey Island Swamp Monster as an interesting part of Louisiana folklore. While there have not been any recent recorded sightings, that does not stop the speculation of this legendary monster’s existence and whereabouts.