At the time, I had just ran away from my home in New Jersey on my 18th birthday present, a classic Indian motorcycle with fringe saddlebag-- yes, I was spoiled but the bike was a bribe to keep me home, to go to college, and to fargedabou my loincloth clad, warpaint wearing psycho hunk down in the Everglades. Of course, if you read my books, you know it didn't work. And you'd know too that in the beginning I believed everything he said. Why? Because he was the "expert" about all things Everglades and just about everything I knew was sold at Hot Topic where I worked the cash register and sold shit to kids like me. But this... thing to me was something the Toxic Avenger would have as a pet and I believed the poor... thing had a muy bad encounter with some kind of toxic chemical that had floated out of the sugar cane fields up near Lake Okeechobee all the way down here. I didn't learn until yesterday that toxic chemicals have nothing to do with its looks.
It's the rare (about 50-years since it was last seen and studied) and legendary Florida Leopard Eel, a giant salamander with leopard spots and only a face its mother could love. Its called Siren reticulata (reticulated siren), and it belongs to a rare genus of giant salamanders called Sirenidae. It's two-feet of long and sinuous slime with only a pair of front legs. That stuff you see around its head, those are its gills.
Looking back, Nokosee probably was just trying to convince me to join up with the New Seminole to fight the Man and to save Gaia and, yeah, it worked because, who wouldn't want to save creatures from looking like Frankenstein monsters? I'll have to ask him if that's what he had in mind next time he visits the Miccosukee Embassy where I'm doing Sanctuary.
You can learn more about the... thing and the scientists who captured it here.