Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mystery critter

To make your own conclusions about the mystery critter, don't peek at the photo at the end until you've read the whole story.

Here's a letter I received recently from a Central Park birder, Ann Lazarus:


Yesterday in the afternoon I went to Wagner`s Cove. Two young women saw lots of bubbles coming up from the water and a long body which they thought at first was an underwater snake. I looked. I did see an extended body underwater. Then I saw some of it above the surface. I looked with my binoculars and saw two vertically-positioned big eyes and a little of the top of its head.

I know it seems impossible, but it looked like alligator eyes in terms of the positioning. The forward part of the head was under water. The creature was swimming with its eyes above the surface.

I gave my binoculars to one of the women. She was also amazed at what she saw. We looked at each other in amazement. What is this animal? I was advised to report it to the Central Park Conservancy. I know you are active there and would know how to report whatever it was. Thank you,


Wow! I quickly sent the letter to Regina Alvarez, the park's Woodlands Manager, who replied almost immediately:

We will check it out. I will let you know if we find anything. Thanks for forwarding it to me, Marie.

A few days went by and I mulled over the idea of an alligator in the Central Park Lake. It seemed bizarre, and yet Ann Lazarus is a reliable informant. Then I had a flash of insight and sent Regina another e-mail:


Just had an idea about the weird critter at the Lower Lobe. Are there any Grass Carp in The Lake? They can get pretty big! Looking at Ann Lazarus' description, it suddenly reminded me of experiences I've had in a rowboat seeing those big fish suddenly materializing nearby. And the bubbles sound right too.


Hope you haven't peeked. Any ideas?

Below is a photo [from the Internet] of a Grass Carp, my Mystery Critter candidate.

P.S. Regina Alvarez confirmed that indeed there are numbers of Grass Carp in the Lake, and agreed with my conclusion about the Mystery Critter. The bubbles clinch it for me.