A kayaker off the coast of a Chicago suburb made a highly unusual discovery — a 4-foot alligator swimming in Lake Michigan, UPI reports.
The City of Waukegan said officials were skeptical when kayaker David Castaneda called in the report of an American alligator swimming in the lake, but they were quickly convinced.
“It is not every day someone reports an alligator in Lake Michigan and the report is true,” the city said in a Facebook post. “This time the call was followed up with video of this four foot alligator slowly swimming in the lake.”
Castaneda said he initially thought the object in the water was a dead salmon when he spotted it about 9:30 a.m. Monday.
“I went closer to see if it was real,” Castaneda told the Chicago Tribune. “I was just in shock. I wasn’t sure if it was a real alligator or a toy.”
The kayaker said he noticed the alligator, which was quite real, had its mouth taped shut, so he decided to catch it himself.
“I just changed my lure to one that was more of a bigger hook and threw it over its back and it hooked on to the little scales that were on its back. And I started pulling it slowly towards me so it wouldn’t freak out,” Castaneda told WLS-TV.
Waukegan Police Animal Control and personnel from Larsen Marine Service, Inc., soon arrived to complete the capture and transport the gator to the Wildlife Discovery Center in Lake Forest.
Rob Carmichael, curator for the Wildlife Discovery Center, said the alligator was lucky to be captured before the lake turned much colder.
“I would say it would be lucky if it lived another couple weeks,” Carmichael said. “Lake Michigan is only getting colder and colder each week.”
Waukegan officials said an investigation is being opened into whether the alligator was an exotic pet that was abandoned with its mouth taped shut.