NEW ORLEANS — Some New Orleans East neighbors were out along the Lake Pontchartrain seawall between Marconi Drive and Canal Boulevard when an 8-foot alligator suddenly appeared.
A video of the encounter is making the rounds on social media.
“It was on Friday night,” Jerome Taylor said. We were fishing out on Lakeshore Drive. Everyone went to screaming. The gator started approaching swimming down the line of the steps.
Taylor says at one point the gator made a move toward people gathered on the seawall.
“At that point, I stepped back, and it just stayed there and made one foot to try and get out of the water. He just stayed there, and we just backed off.”
Jeanette Scott was also there. Her husband shot the video.
“My husband told me get out the way and I was trying to get up to get out the way and I fell,” Scott said.
This sighting comes just a couple of weeks after a child was injured by a large gator at the closed Lincoln Beach.
“Gators can live in that brackish, low salinity water for short periods of time,” Audubon Aquarium biologist Higinio Covarrubias said. “They can traverse through those waters, scoot around going from point A to point B.”
There could be several reasons why there have been more frequent gator sightings in the lake this summer.
Covarrubias says it could be the heat, drought conditions impacting the water levels in nearby bayous, or just the alligators being opportunistic.
“Whether it be a bird, a fish, a reptile, a turtle, they’re going to take advantage of a situation. So, if people are fishing a lot, they may be there.”
Taylor and Scott say seeing such a large alligator in Lake Pontchartrain should be a cautionary tale for anyone who swims in the lake or dangles their feet in the water off the seawall.
“It’s very dangerous to go to the edge of the water,” Taylor said. “They say the gator comes out there pretty often, pretty much every night.”
“I’m not going to be sitting on the steps anymore,” Scott said. “I’m bringing my chair.”
The neighbors tell us people were feeding the alligator. Covarrubias warns leave them alone, don’t feed them.
He says if the alligator loses its fear of humans that could have negative consequences for both the animal and the people it encounters.