Why Cryptozoology Is Interested In Alligator Sightings

Posted by: Loren Coleman on May 14th, 2006

Okay, I started hearing about this a couple days ago, and it now seems to be taking on cryptic or even cryptid status. Folks in Tennessee are having “Alligator Sightings Outside Memphis,” according to the Chicago Tribune:

Alligators aren’t suppose to be this far north. Nevertheless, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has gotten reports of alligator sightings on McKellar Lake, a backwater of the Mississippi just south of Memphis, and at T.O. Fuller State Park, north of the city. Up to five alligators may have been seen, including one said to be close to 7 feet long that was reportedly spotted on a bank beside McKellar Lake. Alligators’ natural range is believed to end south of Tennessee.

Meanwhile, in Austria, a “mystery caiman” was sighted and caused an official search on May 11, 2006. The Silbersee – a lake near Austria’s westernmost city of Villach – was the site of recent sightings of large, five-feet long “crocodile-like creature,” which local official believe is a caiman.

Tensions are going to run high in the media when the subject of alligators comes up this spring again. Florida has suffered its first gator fatality already, the 18th confirmed fatal alligator attack in Florida since 1948. An alligator apparently attacked 28-year-old jogger Yovy Suarez Jimenez on land. Her dismembered body was found floating in the Sunrise canal on Wednesday afternoon, May 11th, west of Miami. CNN reported on May 14th that the ‘gator has been killed and had two arms in its stomach,

Crocodilian sightings (such as those from Tennessee and Austria) and findings (e.g., one of the “Maine Gators” found on April 22nd) are of interest to cryptozoologists.

Why, you ask? Well, there are several reasons, including (please add your own, in comments):

1) some Lake Monsters are initially reported to look like alligators;
2) some water cryptids may turn out to be alligators or other pet croc escapees;
3) keeping track of the expanding or pet escapee enhanced alligator range is a good idea;
4) field-aware cryptozoologists like to know if there are any dangerous animals in the path of their pursuits;
5) out-of-place ‘gators are cool and very Fortean.

Of course, getting killed and eaten by a gator is not cool, but it would might be Fortean.

UPDATE: Two more have been killed by alligators in Florida, please click here.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

14 Responses to “Why Cryptozoology Is Interested In Alligator Sightings”

  1. Tabitca responds:

    I wonder if the alligator moments are due to global warming. Here in Britain we have reports of scorpion colonies, rare spider eating wasps and other such creatures never been this far north before, because it’s always been too cold.This in a week that has been very warm and resulted in almost tropical thunderstorms.I’ve never seen such big spiders as the last two summers have produced.Maybe it’s time to head for Alaska? lol no alligators there.Are there any stories of larger than normal alligators?(apart from in the movies)

  2. shovethenos responds:

    There are a LOT of “out of place” gator events. Check out the US Geological Survey website.

    I was in Buffalo, NY for the event listed in 2001. What a circus – one of the radio stations actually rented a gator suit and had the guy dressed up in the suit following the gator hunters around in the radio station van. The creek the gator was in is actually under and beside one of the main highway arteries going through Buffalo, so this was all in view of rush hour traffic.

    Unlike the recent gator fugitives in Maine, the gator in Buffalo allegedly actually survived at least one Buffalo winter. Supposedly it had access through the sewers to some kind of steam vent or something that provided warmth. Allegedly it survived on rats. The theory I heard was that someone attending a wedding brought the gator up from FL.

  3. Loren Coleman responds:

    Excellent resource and list Shovethenos. I think this database on “out of place” was created in 2006. I compiled a comprehensive list of 84 North American cases from 1843 to 1983 (pp. 299-304 in MA), but I see the government didn’t cite it. 🙂

  4. sschaper responds:

    Global Warming is a crock. Scorpions in Britain are probably due to escaped “pets” or the Chunnel, which from a biological perspective, was a very, very bad idea.

    Are you yet able to have profitable vinyards in the South of England as was the case in Roman times? We are still colder than a climatic optimum, in spite of all of the increased solar activity.

    Out of place animals are pretty common, humans have exotic pets, they get out, survive in the wild in places where they hadn’t managed to get to, before. Hence the large cats on the moors. Hence the cane toads in Australia, monitor lizards and walking catfish in Florida, snakeheads and zebra muscles(sp) in the middle lattitudes of America, etc.

    Out of place animals are definitely interesting, and the reaction of Fish and Game agents to reports of them are interesting sociolocially to amateur cryptozoologists, but I don’t think they are necessarily portents of doom.

  5. One Eyed Cat responds:

    I only hope the mating season timing of any and all out of place gators has altered to fit their new climate. Mating season – which I believe is starting about now in Florida is when the ‘bulls’ go wondering for ‘Lady friends’ and when the gators show up on people’s porches etc. And in lakes/ponds they never were before. It can be a very dangerious time for potential prey – who have no idea of the threat.

  6. twblack responds:

    Wow great question on global warming. I kind of always thought that a gator in someplaces that have winters were probably cast off from people who buy rhem as pets and get to big and release them. Maybe with the global warm up they are reaching out to new places. I know I just read an article about Flordia’s problem with big Snakes – Pythons and Boas really tearing up the place for they really have no natural enemies in Flordia according to the article it is really getting nasty their esp. for pets like cats and dogs. Again the exotic pet trade in my view is not a smart thing for the public or the animal.

  7. fuzzy responds:

    shovethenos-2 ~ thanx for the link to that fact sheet ~ always alarming to find that a 3 foot gator was captured near your home (Napa).

    Friend of mine spotted a 3 to 4 foot bright green lizard scampering across his front yard in Roseburg Oregon ~ later heard that it had escaped from a pet shop across the street ~ but they never found it ~ instant cryptid!

  8. bill green responds:

    hi everyone people who research sasquatch creatures or any wildlife in swamps marshes must always know that there is alligaters in those areas all the time even in the spring and summer months. i wonder if sasquatch creatures eat alligaters as food resource if maybe the alligater was old and couldnt defend it self in theary. im sure that now more alligater warning signs will posted in swamps in florida and other states that might be able to support them. thanks bill 🙂

  9. oldbutnotstupid responds:

    IF these gators are moving north they will eventually reach my area . anyone got a good recipe?

  10. Jeremy_Wells responds:

    Come hang out in Texas on a 90+ degree day in February and tell me global warming is “a croc”… even this far south, where we are used to the warmth, we’ve been getting 100+ degree weather well into the end of September/beginning of October.

  11. Jeremy_Wells responds:

    but, on the escaped exotic front, sschaper, you DO have a very valid point. Boas and pythons in Florida being the most recent example of the snakehead/nutria/kudzu (yes, plants can be invasive too) phenomenon.
    But, once enough exotics escape to create a wild breeding population, then you DO have cryptids (i.e. out of place populations)

  12. greatanarch responds:

    We can’t blame the scorpions in England on the Channel Tunnel: the reports go back to the 18th century, though they were undoubtedly stowaways from better climates. And yes, we do have a handful of vineyards: I used to work next to one in Surrey, though I won’t vouch for the quality.

  13. George Wagner responds:

    I remember reading a very bad British pulp magazine short (*) story in which the protagonist slogged his was through the alligator-infested swamps of ….Indiana.

    (*) Mercifully.

  14. Mnynames responds:

    Mankind is responsible for an ongoing and rapidly accelerating 6th great mass extinction on this planet, but it is also responsible for the mingling of species that have never before seen each other. Introduced species are a major phenomenon, as the current scale of it is unprecedented in natural history. Species from completely different and unconnected continents are now interacting, with results that no one can truly predict. I think I read somewhere that 90% of species in San Francisco Bay are not native to the area, and Florida backyard fauna is more exotic than most zoo exhibits. Your average piece of ocean debris (Now more likely to be treated wood or plastic) is covered with bryozooans and other small organisms from oceans thousands of miles away.

    In my own area (South Jersey), we have Dandelions (Brought over by English colonists as a food source in the 1600’s), Japanese Phragmites reeds (introduced in the 1850’s from Japanese packing material, supplanting the native Phragmites), Periwinkles (from England and Newfoundland, possibly hitched a lift on boat hulls in the 1850’s), Gypsy Moths (From Europe, don’t know when they first arrived, but they were quite the plague back in the 1980’s), and Japanese Shore Crabs (Transported in ballast water in 1988, now common), just to mention a few. 2 Rheas escaped into the Pine Barrens in the 1990’s and have been seen since, but not captured. The owner of a Tiger preserve got in trouble when a Tiger was reported outside her pens, although she steadfastly claims that it wasn’t one of hers. Dozens of Kangaroos have also been seen over the years.

    We also have a number of birds that should either not be here or here only for a short time that now appear to be permanent residents. To mention a few- Herring Gulls (Migrated into area from New England in 1946, now common), Black-Backed Gulls (Migrated into area from New England in 1966), Canada Geese (Migratory, but began to stay later and later in the late 1970’s), and Brants (Migratory, they are supposed to fly north back to Canada in February. I can personally vouch for having seen 100 or so outside my work this morning. They may still eventually head back north, but so did the Canada Geese, originally). These birds compete with native and naturally migratory birds for food, and some, such as the Herring and Black-Back Gulls, can actually eat some of the smaller shorebirds directly.

    Many of these smaller shorebirds are also dying off due to the elimination of their primary (In some cases sole) food source- Horseshoe Crab eggs. Historically, they have annually produced roughly 120 tons of eggs in the Delaware Bay region, with 40 tons being consumed directly by the birds in just a 3-month period. But we have lost 50% of our Horseshoe Crabs, roughly 11.5 million individuals, over the last 10 years to baymen, who chop up the females for use as bait. In that time we have seen a 70% reduction in many species of birds. The Red Knot is expected to become extinct within the next 5 years if nothing is done to drastically improve the situation. 5 years ago, their population stood at 150,000.

    We are changing the world faster than we can understand it, and far faster than we can undo it, if that is even possible. We are remaking the world, but no one can say what form this new world will take, only that it is likely to be a far poorer and less diverse one than the one we think we know. How many cryptids will fall to this onslought before their existence can be confirmed?

Sorry. Comments have been closed.

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