Four-foot Caiman Found in Lake Michigan
Kayaker David Castaneda was startled to find a four-foot caiman last Monday while out fishing on Lake Michigan near the northern Chicago suburb of Waukegan.
According to Castaneda, the out-of-place reptile was found with blue tape around its snout.
"It was just so weird, something out of the ordinary," Castaneda told local news affiliate ABC 7. "It's not supposed to be here, so it's not—it can't defend itself and it had its mouth closed, so it was going to die if I left it there."
Castaneda took matters into his own hands rather than wait for Waukegan Animal Control, and resourcefully used the fishing gear he had on him to snare the animal.
"So 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," he said.
The caiman was successfully rescued and taken to the Wildlife Discovery Center in Lake Forest, where it is being kept in warm water and provided with plenty of food.
Wildlife Discovery Center curator Rob Carmichael said the animal likely wouldn't have survived in Lake Michigan for much longer.
“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.”
How the caiman came to be in Lake Michigan is still a mystery, although many suspect that it was kept as an exotic pet prior to being dumped.
David Motley, a spokesman for the City of Waukegan, said that the city will investigate the incident to determine if the caiman was illegally abandoned.