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Rare Alligator Sighting Draws Curious Gawkers To New Jersey Pond

SECAUCUS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- An unusual sighting in a Secaucus pond has people flocking to the area, hoping to get a glimpse and find out how it got there.

Smack in the middle of industrial buildings is the Secaucus duck pond, where something appears to be lurking deep in the water.

"I noticed at the water's edge, there was about a 2.5-3 foot alligator, and at first I thought it was like a rubber thing, but it was sitting with its mouth open in the open position," DPW supervisor, Gary Sgambati told CBS2's Reena Roy.

Sgambati said he spotted the creature two weeks ago, just a few days before the town's popular fishing derby.

"By the time I got my phone to snap the picture, he just darted under water on me," he said.

That two second glimpse led to a two day boat search by wildlife crews, but mayor Michael Gonnelli said nothing was found or caught.

"With this kind of alligator, it could go in the pond and underwater, and we're never gonna find it," he said.

So, how did it get here?

"I think it was a pet, it got too big, and they looked for a place to dispose of it, and this is what they found," he said.

CBS2 called the Department of Environmental Protection, which said that's likely the case. The agency gets a few reports like this across the state each year, but no matter the back story, people are diving into the mystery -- nearby residents spent a hot May afternoon at the pond.

Aside from the fun of gator chasing, the mayor's office is taking extra precautions. Officials put a sign up to warn the neighborhood. They posted it ahead of the fishing derby on May 6, and plan to keep it in place throughout the summer.

"Just telling people there's something in the water possibly, and just to keep your eyes open," Gonnelli said.

"I saw that sign over there, and said you gotta be kidding me. I was just blown away," fisherman Georg Bullerdick added.

For now, people want to gawk, but eventually town leaders hope to say later to the gator that's slinking through Secaucus.

The DPW worker who spotted the gator said he hasn't seen one in the pond since the late 1980s.



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