Gator

Image via Google Maps

A large alligator could recently be seen swimming in the water of Lake Pontchartrain, and the culprit that likely drove it there is nearby.

The gator, estimated to be about 10-feet long, was likely driven to the area near Lake Terrace Park by the Bonnet Carre Spillway, according to a report from WWL-TV. It was not specified exactly when the sighting occurred. 

Can't see WWL-TV video below? Click here


The spillway was opened for the second time this year, the first time it's ever been used twice in such a span over its 90-year history, on May 10 as the Mississippi River again swelled over the mark that triggers its opening. The spillway currently has 148 of its 350 bays open. 

The spillway had already set a new record when it was opened on Feb. 27, marking the first time it had been used in two consecutive years. It's been used 14 times in its history, including three of the past four years. The February opening lasted until April 11, which 206 bays opened at its peak. 

The water from the spillway has been cited as a possible cause of the deaths of numerous dolphins, turtles and oysters along the Gulf Coast. 

Martha Byrd, who walks her dog in the area, told WWL-TV she was concerned by the news. 

"It's very scary," she said in the report. "I wouldn't swim." 

But gator sightings are not unusual. Exactly a year ago, a Facebook user posted a video to his page showing an alligator by the steps of Lake Pontchartrain. He says "We've got a lake gator," before it duck its head back beneath the water. 

In July a Facebook user named Erik De Jonge posted that he stopped his bike ride to share a video of "the biggest alligator" he'd ever spotted

John Lopez, an expert with the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, told WWL-TV that while alligators prefer fresh water, the lake has become more suitable in recent years. He added that gators don't live in the lake permanently, but are known to venture from neighboring wetlands. He advised to be careful with pets while the conditions remain conducive for alligators to venture into the lake, adding that it could take three months from when the spillway is closed again before the water salinity rebounds to normal levels. 

For the full report from WWL-TV, click here.