Sunday 6 December 2009

The alligator gar- an explanation for some river/lake monster sightings ?

The alligator gar is a carnivorous fish with an average lifespan of females of the species 50 years, males 26 years and it can measure up to 10 ft (3 m) and weigh up to 300 lbs (140 kg). Could this be the explanation for some river/ lake monster sightings?

Lacepede first described the alligator gar in 1803. The original name was Lepisosteus spatula and later changed by Wiley in 1976 to Atractosteus spatula

The alligator Gar is usually described as olive green or yellow with a white underneath and with diamond shaped scales on a cylindrical body .It has a wide, alligator-like snout full of sharp teeth which is probably what gave the species its name. It s front end looks like an alligator, the back end like a serpent or eel. A joint behind the head allows these creatures to make nodding head movements. The anal and dorsal fins of the fish are located towards the rear and are nearly opposite to each other. The fish's eggs are poisonous to humans if ingested. When an Alligator Gar leaps out of the water it will often make a loud grunt noise as the air in its air bladder is forced out. Then it inhales making a rasping sound. These sorts of noises are often reported in lake/ river monster encounters. They have few natural predators once they reach adulthood.

They inhabit waters from Texas and Oklahoma, to the Mississippi River Basin and the lower Ohio and Missouri river systems, and into Mexico. Their habitat includes lakes, bayous, and bays and they are able to tolerate brackish and even salt water., The only reports of attacks on humans have been few and tend to be either a child dangling it’s feet in the water or a fisherman landing one in their boat that was still alive. On record there are two attacks on youngsters dangling their feet in the water around the Lake Charles area ,one from the 1920s. It is probable the gar mistook them for a waterfowl splashing or a fish.

Story of a 8’10” gar caught by two fishermen plus more pics.:

The gar would certainly b e a n explanation for some crocodilian type sightings in the states where it lives and it’s description could be that of a lake creature. I think it is certainly an explanation for some sightings but not all as an experienced fisherman would recognise the gar. They are apparently good to eat but the scales are very difficult to remove. Due to overfishing they are protected in some states. Their long life and fairly solitary existence would tally again with some sightings. So worth a thought when you read about new sightings…could it be an alligator gar and not an unknown species?

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