A kayaker hoping to reel in some salmon on Lake Michigan instead found himself face-to-snout with a 4-foot alligator on Monday. David Castaneda was fishing off Waukegan Harbor when he spotted the reptile swimming slowly with its mouth taped shut, reports the Lake County News-Sun. "I was just in shock," says Castaneda, who sent authorities a video to confirm the alligator wasn't a toy. Once rescued, it was taken to Wildlife Discovery Center in Lake Forest, where officials hope to nurse it back to health.
Though the animal's condition remains unclear, curator Rob Carmichael says the gator was thin and likely would've died within a couple of weeks as "Lake Michigan is only getting colder and colder." An effort is now being made to trace the foreigner; an investigation will examine whether the exotic animal was abandoned against the law, says city spokesman David Motley. "These creatures are not indigenous," he tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "You can imagine the skepticism that came with it." (Read more Lake Michigan stories.)