Residence: Queens, New York

Incident Location: New York City Water Tunnel No. 3

“Hundreds of feet beneath the bumper-to-bumper traffic of New York City is one of the world’s most ambitious engineering projects. Though it goes by the prosaic name of City Water Tunnel No. 3, when work wraps up in 2020 the subterranean aqueduct will have taken five decades and at least $6 billion to complete. It will snake 60 miles from the Kensico Reservoir in Westchester County through the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn, supplying water to more than 8 million residents and thousands of factories and businesses.

City Water Tunnels No. 1 and No. 2, finished in 1917 and 1936, transport more than a billion gallons of water daily, but they leak badly in places. In 1954, engineers realized the only way to repair and maintain the older tunnels–and to increase capacity to meet growing demand–was to build a third, more sophisticated tunnel with valves to shut down and divert the flow of water. Plus, it would provide a fallback should any portion of the system be damaged by an event like an earthquake.”

Age: 34

Gender: Male

Occupation: Sandhog

Injury or Fatality: No

Other Witnesses: Yes – Refused Comment

BEGIN RECORDING

Captain Cousteau: Hello Mike! Thank you for meeting with me. Please recount your sewergator encounter with as much detail as possible…

Mike Warfield: I use a pneumatic drill that sinks 10-ft. holes into the rock. Dynamite is then tamped in with wooden poles. We use a massive machine to bore through the longest stretches of bedrock, and I love the sometimes dangerous, always labor-intensive drill-and-blast work. Planning for the tunnel began in the 1960s, and in 1970 the “sandhogs” began to dig. My dad was one of the first sandhogs.

The guys I work with are the closest friends I have on Earth. If all hell breaks loose and a hog is in danger, you go after him, no questions asked. I trust them with my life.

We’d brought in some piping to drain off excessive water. It had been a rainy spring and water in the tunnel was knee-high. We were all wearing waders. It was hard to move. Hard to work.

I don’t know if the beast was in the piping upon arrival, or if the gator had managed to find it’s way into the tunnel on its own. Regardless, it was enormous!

I waded into the deeper water to pound in the dynamite. I was halfway across the waterway when I came face to face with the hungry gator. I looked back and the gator surfaced and I looked him right in the face and stared at him for what seemed like an eternity.

He dragged me under the water five times. Though I wasn’t aware at the time, my arm was being ripped off. The gator hit me in my stomach and knocked the wind out of me and I dug and took my finger and gouged its eye. It spun and turned around and went away from me. I didn’t know I was missing an arm until I was wading back.

I got away from him, luckily. I mean, it was just a fight for survival. He was trying to eat and I was trying not to get eaten. The whole time I just felt myself bleeding to death. The whole time I was just screaming for help and asking God for forgiveness. I was shouting and then men were applying pressure to prevent me from bleeding out. I was praying and after that everything went dark. They called 911 and the ambulance picked me up.

A New York Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission captured the 15-foot-long alligator responsible for the attack and destroyed it. The photo below was taken after the incident. A necropsy was performed on the gator and examiners were able to recover my arm, but were unable to reattach it. Nine months later I received a bionic arm – a gift from Mayor Bloomberg.

The gator was incinerated and all media was kept away to prevent mass hysteria. People shouldn’t know that these animals are living beneath their city. People shouldn’t have to worry about these beasts. This is New York! Not the Everglades!

Picture taken when Alligator was Found:

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Maps:

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City Hall Revealed

May 3, 2009

The Nest

The Nest

The City Hall subway station was officially closed and abandoned on December 31, 1945. Tours were still offered until quite recently, and now the station has fallen into complete disrepair. Still, the occasional MTA Inspection worker is sent to investigate its conditions. Such is the character of my next interview and thus my next descent into the underground.

City Hall is close to the Canal Street/Chinatown area, and so it seemed a logical location for my next investigation. The street entrances to the station are now sealed, so we entered through a sewer shaft that actually led us to the station. As with the previous descent, I brought two crewmembers with me and left the rest inside the station, and above ground, to monitor our progress and standing.

Diving gear was unnecessary for this attempt because we were going to walk through the abandoned subway line. We did, however, wear long rubber suits, helmets, and the same monitoring and recording devices as before.

This line was not as warm as the sewers had been, but the air was still stagnant and smelled of the refuse floating immediately below and beside the old tracks. We trudged along in the dim light until we saw a large crack in the wall, from which rats were openly and unabashedly scurrying. We decided to go in.Clutching to the wall for guidance, we eventually were led into a larger corridor that seemed to be an abandoned construction site. Water was everywhere, and it floated above our ankles. I later found out that this was an integral portion of the station’s history:

“City Hall Station opened along with the rest of the Interborough’s first subway line on October 27, 1904. It was immediately clear that expansion of the subway system would be necessary and additional lines were built. But ever-increasing ridership eventually required the Interborough’s five-car local stations to be lengthened to accommodate longer trains, and so the IRT underwent an extensive program of station lengthening in the 1940s and early 1950s.

City Hall, due to its architecture and its being situated on a tight curve, was deemed impractical for lengthening. The new longer trains had center doors on each car, and at City Hall’s tight curve, it was dangerous to open them. It was decided to abandon the station in favor of the nearby Brooklyn Bridge station…” (http://www.nycsubway.org/perl/stations?5:979)

Clearly an attempt had been made to expand the station into the surrounding strata. After this had been deemed impossible the site was abandoned altogether, and is now almost completely forgotten by its human progenitors. Because there are only small cracks for air to flow, this site was quite warmer and gave me a distinct feeling of suffocation. Despite this, the plants and animals had not forgotten, nor had they hesitated to take advantage of such a fortuitous situation. They had formed their homes in the rubble, and had appreciated its protected nature.  They flourished in this environment. If we were to find an alligator nest or even an alligator themselves, this would have been an ideal location.

And so we did. Tucked in a small corner of the rock lay an alligator’s nest devoid of eggs. Had this been the former home of the egg we found in the sewer? We took some samples and, after searching for a bit more and finding nothing, ascended back to the surface.

I was becoming restless. How could these alligators evade detection so well? Obviously, there were alligators living below the streets of New York. I had only found bare traces of this, though, and was eager to find the alligators themselves. Perhaps the means to avoid detection had been one of their urban adaptations?

Collect Pond and the Modern City

Collect Pond and the Modern City

I have conducted several more interviews, but only one seems to lead in any constructive direction—a father and daughter who lost a beloved pet to the Chinatown sewer system. This area has an incredibly rich history which is both forever forgotten and forever memorialized by the modern sewer system of New York:

“Before the Five Points, there was a little part of Manhattan called the Collect Pond. This underground spring-fed lake was a major source of fresh water for the people of New York, but by the late 1700s, it grew too polluted for use due to the many tanneries, breweries clustered near it, and the use of the pond as a dumping ground by others. The city began draining the Collect starting around 1802 by backfilling it with construction debris, and whatever garbage they could find.

There was a problem though…. people soon realized all that water had nowhere to go as the surrounding low-lying area was already marshland, and occasionally flooded. Because of health concerns (malaria), the city drafted a plan in 1807 to build a canal to drain all the water from the surrounding area, and whatever remained of the pond. The Collect Pond was finally drained by 1811. The recovered waterlogged land, was used to build a massive prison called the Tombs in 1838. The canal itself remained until 1821 when it was covered over, and used as an underground sewer.

Yes, there really was a canal at Canal Street. It was built in 1808 to drain the collect pond and the surrounding area of water. In 1821, the canal had gotten to the point of smelling so bad that the city covered it up and turned it into an underground sewer” (http://www.nychinatown.org/history/1800s.html)

Today, a portion of the original Collect Pond is a park (entitled appropriately Collect Park). Canal street is still the location of a major sewer line running through Chinatown. This is where I had to continue my search.

The Aqua Lung

The Aqua Lung

Due to the unusual conditions of this expedition, I did not want to have a full crew at hand. The Canal street tunnel is large, but entering into smaller tunnels it would be difficult to stay together. Because of this, I chose two other men to accompany me below the surface, and the rest of my crew stayed above ground monitoring our breathing, heart rate, and other vitals. We did not know how much liquid would be below and if we would be completely submerged, so we suited up in Aqua Lungs to begin this journey. Essentially, the Aqua Lung allows us to breathe without connecting to an air source above water, though we still remained connected to each other and the outside world via our radio system (which was inside of our headpieces), and our video equipment, which we attached to the outside of our suits.

We entered the sewers at midnight on a warm summers’ evening at the intersection of Canal Street and Broadway. Alligators are most active at night, as I mentioned before, and they are also most active between 82 and 92 degrees Fahrenheit. I want to see these amazing creatures in movement, in life. I have no desire to remove them, as they have become just as integral to the city wildlife as any other, including the common sewer rat.

The two crewmen and I made were lowered into the bowels of the city by those who would stay above. The burst of stale, gaseous air hit us immediately. It was warmer than one would think—the heat from the drifting liquid and from the enclosure itself was incredible. The interior of the sewer was dark but light could be seen emitting from far off in the distance, and we immediately turned on the few lights that we had brought for the occasion. We waded in the waist-deep refuse seeing little rats scuttle by in the crevices of the tunnel. Of course, we were extremely cautious and quiet, making sure to view all around us. We did not want to have any hungry alligator sneaking up on us.

Unlike the deep ocean, the deep sewer is a reminder of the human life above. The garbage ran around our bodies and little bits of the city’s life seemed to come to light: what people had ate, what they read, where they had gone to the cinema. It became clear that an alligator would have absolutely no trouble surviving in these conditions. It was humid and balmy, there was plenty of food both from humans and from the rats and other creatures, and the water was, polluted, yes, but also shallow and warm.

After a few hours, we prepared to ascend to our fellows.

We did not find an alligator.

But we did find something even more precious—an alligator egg. It was completely in tact, though apparently had abandoned at some point before we found it as we could find no other eggs and no visible nest. It could have fallen or been knocked out of the nest and drifted in the sewage to the location where it was found by us.

We were getting very close to a major breakthrough.

The Sewergator Egg

The Sewergator Egg

The East River... an alligator throughway?

The East River... an alligator throughway?

My second interview with Rusty proved fruitful. His testimony confirmed my suspicions—there was and is several generations of gater lurking in the waters of the metropolis. What disturbs me is the water quality of the East River, especially at the latter half of the 19th century. It is quite polluted, and is actually dangerous to swim in, though now in 2009 it is much cleaner than ever before. What type of adaptations must these alligators have to be able to survive in such a habitat?

The alligator that injured Chester may still be alive, but Chester has long since passed. I could not investigate his tail to see if the bite marks are consistent with an alligator’s jaw and teeth. My supposition is that it must have been a relatively small alligator; a larger creature would have devoured Chester. Perhaps a more appropriate term is maim. You see, alligators perform what is known as a “death roll” on order to eat their prey. They tightly grip the prey by its body and use their powerful tails to swing that body around until bits of flesh are removed. Only a relatively small gator, even a baby, would have been able to remove a cat’s tail and leave the rest unharmed. The water in that area though moves quite rapidly, at about a speed of four knots. The alligator must be small but an incredibly strong swimmer.

The East River, where Rusty believes the alligator to have lived, connects Upper New York Bay on the south to Long Island Sound on the north. These gators would have a range of habitat then, from the boroughs of the city to Long Island. I decided that Manhattan would be the best center for this type of habitat for several reasons. Namely, the island is actually centrally located, has an intricate network of underground systems including the sewer, the subway, and the tunnels to and from the city that are tightly woven and interconnected, and most importantly, Manhattan is perhaps the only location where such a peripheral population could have gone unnoticed for almost a century.

I decided not to physically investigate the East River. It is too dangerous for swimmers to enter its waters (including scuba divers) because of the levels of toxicity and because of the speedy current. As an alternative, my crew prepared to enter the urban subterranean depths in search of the sewergater.

Residence: Brooklyn, NY

Incident Location: The Fulton Fish Market

Age: 42

Gender: Male

Occupation: Commercial Fisherman

Injury or Fatality: None

Other Witnesses: Unknown

BEGIN RECORDING

Captain Cousteau: Hello Rusty!  Thank you for meeting with me.  Please recount your sewergator encounter with as much detail as possible…

Rusty (refused to provide last name): In 1989, we sold our house in Queens and moved in with my wife’s parents in Brooklyn. We used the capital to purchase a 40-foot 1978 commercial fishing vessel. It had a fiberglass hull and a diesel engine and came from Nova Scotia. I was able to pay in full at the time of the purchase, picking it up for $13,500. I named my boat “Riot Ready.”

At that time, the Fulton Fish Market was in its historic location near the Brooklyn Bridge—above Fulton Street in Lower Manhattan. In its original location, the Fulton market was one of the last, and most significant, of the great wholesale food markets on the East Coast. The market was already transitioning from a commercial dock to a truck depository. As a local, I was still able to dock and sell my haul directly to the market without a middleman. I would wake up at 4 a.m. and prepare the Riot for the Atlantic. On a good day, I would finish unloading at 3 p.m. While the Riot is not a factory ship, I use large nets and over the years I sought to harvest tuna, cod, salmon, shrimp, krill, lobster, squid, and crab from wild fisheries far out in the Atlantic Ocean.

After selling my load, I head home for dinner. My catch is then sold to restaurateurs and retailers who purchase fresh fish of every imaginable variety. Fulton prices are tracked and reported to the national government as the market distributes and buys fish to and from ports across New England.

New York is a city of rats, so on the waterfront we have a great need for cats. When the traffic dwindles and most people sleep the neighborhoods are swept by strays. The strays live a life drastically different from kept cats and often die from malnutrition, exposure or food poisoning. Part-time grocery store or restaurant cats were once used to keep rodents away. The number of kept commercial cats has diminished with the decline of small grocery stores and rise of supermarkets, along with more stringent health inspection guidelines. Flea ridden felines are no longer the go-to source for rat removal.

At the fish market the need for cats remains great, but not everyone believes their service outweighs their nuisance. Once, a longshoreman with a severe allergy tried to get rid of all the cats by poisoning their food supply. Within a day the rat infestation was out of control. They covered the crates and stole the workmen’s lunches. Finally, cats were recruited from surrounding neighborhoods, but even then a group of virile rats will sometimes manage to kill a cat. That’s why the cats refuse to sleep at the market. Fearing that the rats would overrun them, they retire behind dumpsters in abandoned alleyways.

The first summer after purchasing the Riot, I began feeding Chester. Cats are punctual and Chester kept track of my schedule and knew my weakness for orange tabbies. As a boy, I’d had an orange tabby named Rambler who I kept until I began fishing commercially as a crew member on a factory ship. I moved out of my father’s bi-level in New Jersey and got an apartment in the city. I saw Rambler on the weekends and always remembered to bring home a bag of catnip with a side of fresh tuna from Friday’s catch.

There’s nothing more depressing than old age in animals. It seems somehow wrong that Rambler, my childhood confidant, should have graying fur, sagging skin and old blind eyes. Rambler became more quiet, and coughed in his sleep and on one December day, while I was in Ft. Lauderdale with friends, Rambler died alone on my parent’s living room floor. My parents kept him in the outdoor refrigerator where they stockpile meat for family barbeques until I returned from vacation. We buried him in the backyard in a small cardboard box I’d taken from the market.

Chester looked a lot like Rambler. He had yet to acquire the cagy, expressionless, haunted look of the other felines of the waterfront. His face was still so full of expression, and I swear that cat had an uncanny sense of time. He was so punctual that a day never passed when Rambler wasn’t awaiting my arrival. When I adjusted my schedule for the 4th of July holiday, I worked a makeup Saturday and was surprised to find that Chester knew not to await my arrival on weekends, knowing that I didn’t work on those days.

That August the cat population once again began to decline. Supervisors questioned all of the longshoremen, but no one admitted to laying down the poison. They contacted the local shelter to see if they had increased their pickup in the area and found that the pickup had also declined. By September the rats had infested the market again.

Chester was thriving and no longer needed my assistance to pull in his dinner. He still awaited my arrival and I always paused to let him rub against my boots. I often scratched him behind the eats as he proudly displayed the large carcass of the rat he’d caught that day. He’d already slit the vermin down the belly and eaten its liver, but he always waited for my arrival to finish off his prey. Occasionally, his dinner was still alive upon my arrival, but always very near death. The rat would squeal as Chester pressed his paw into its broken ribcage. He would tap the rat to ensure that it was still alive. After it cried out in pain, he would pounce on it, tossing it in the air before once again securing it to the ground with sturdy grip on its tail. Before leaving I always congratulated Chester with a celebratory belly rub.

Every day Chester’s catch grew larger, while my load decreased. The market was having trouble maintaining its dock service with its continued rat problem. Crate carries quit and discussion of relocating to Hunt’s Point had already begun among the longshoremen. Pressure was building to redevelop the area due to the Market’s desirable location, high real estate value, and increasing financial problems. Moreover, the market was cramped and lacked modern amenities. More and more men in great shiny suits walked the docks, discussing the site’s potential for retail and residential use. And every day there were more rats.

–Sure, the Bronx market is technologically advanced. It offers climate control. But there’s something nostalgic about an old open-air fish market. There’s some value in hauling my load onto a dock where commercial fishing has gone on for more than a century. I particularly miss the urban legends.

At the time, the rumor began to circulate that the rat problem wasn’t really a rat problem at all. Alligators, although not commonly found along the northeast Atlantic shore, had been sighted in sewers and rivers around throughout the city for decades. The cats could have been killed by gators, which preyed on the felines’ curious nature. Dock cats weren’t afraid of the water and would follow rats running through debris that floated at the water’s edge. Old oil drums floated upside down and discarded lumber was stacked recklessly against the barricades. Hundreds of plastic bottles and soda cans created a thick layer that would sustain a cat’s weight as it bounded after his prey. Some cats misjudged the thickness, and getting too close to the edge of the debris, fell into the bath—an easy meal. But that was just the beginning. Eventually, the gators learned to stalk cats that came near the waterfront, lying in wait in a location the cat was likely to traverse.

The only problem with this theory was that no one actually saw an alligator, no substantiated report of any large reptile with teeth, scales, and large, muscular tails. Not a single confirmed account. Still, somehow every log that fell into the water looked more and more reptilian. The city grew wary of the waterfronts. I began to worry for Chester. He had become the top cat, King of the Docks, proudly presenting me with freshly killed rats nearly equal to himself in size. But even Chester, like the others, might one day disappear. I didn’t know whether the alligator theory was a real possibility, but it was one possibility I could do something about.

My wife and I had been married five years and she wanted to have a baby. Lucy hated cats. She came from a family of dog lovers and animatedly refused to allow a litter box in the house. “Real pets do their business in the bushes,” she said. Until I’d met Chester, I hadn’t even considered asking Lucy if we could acquire a pet. But, now, the conversation seemed inevitable.

I asked Lucy if she wanted to go out to dinner on Friday night and she agreed. I put on the dress shirt and slacks I wore to church and made a reservation at an expensive-looking restaurant in Little Italy. Lucy bought a new dress and seemed anxious. I hadn’t been this nervous since I’d asked her to marry me. Just before the check came I paused, leaned forward and placed my hand on hers.

“I want to adopt a cat,” I muttered.

Lucy retracted and pulled her hand from underneath mine. Before I realized what was happening Lucy had slapped me across the face and left the table. Everyone in the room was looking in my direction. The sting of her fingers on my cheek continued to burn as I rushed to the matradee’s stand and offered him a wad of bills from my wallet. I didn’t bother to count the money and only later realized that I must have spent over $300 on that meal, certainly the most expensive dinner we had and will have eaten in this city.

I followed her to the parking garage. She was pressing herself against the passenger door. I had the keys.

“I thought you were going to ask me to have a baby!” she shouted into the empty garage.

I couldn’t respond. I was standing directly in front of her and yet she continued to shout. I unlocked the car door without saying a word and she climbed in. The silence continued all the way home. The next morning we woke up and without finishing our discussion we continued as if nothing had happened.

I left early that morning, eager to get out of the house. I arrived at the market and finished unloading my catch early as well. Chester wasn’t waiting in his usual spot.

“I’m early,” I told myself. “He’ll be here soon.”

I tied the boat up and seated myself on a crate. It was October and the sun had begun setting earlier. As the shadows lengthened dozens of fur clad, bulbous lumps scampered in the growing darkness.

Thirty minutes passed with no sign of Chester.

An hour.

I walked to the end of the dock and counted the logs that looked like alligators. There were three that had a mild resemblance.

“What are you still doing here?” a supervisor shouted from the landing.

“Have you seen Chester?” I asked.

“That orange cat you like so much?”

“Yeah.”

The man looked confused. He didn’t seem to understand why I cared.

“He’s inside. Cat got into a bit of trouble today. Go check the locker room.”

I wanted to run, but hesitated while the supervisor was watching. My feet were light and I struggled to lay down heavy, slow steps. I swung the door to the locker room open, but didn’t see Chester. I stepped between two wooden benches and walked to the end of a row of lockers. At my feet was a small cardboard box, not unlike the box I’d used to bury Rambler.

I was devastated. I loathed the idea of looking inside. I sat down on the end of one of the benches and moved closer, pressing my ear against the cardboard. I quieted myself. The room was noiseless except for the hum of a distant motor. If Chester was alive I should be able to hear him rustling inside.

Finally, I gained the courage to peel back the cardboard and look inside. Chester looked up at me with a pleased grin as if to say, “You found me!” nestled in a tangle of shop rags and old towels. I reached inside so that I could give him a proper greeting. I pulled the towel away. It was stained with blood.

Despite the injury, Chester quickly popped up to say hello. I rubbed his head and neck and counted his legs—four—he still had four legs. And as I ran my fingers down his back he turned so that I could rub the crest of his spine. Then I noticed the damage. Chester’s tail was gone!

That was all the proof I needed. The Fulton fish market was overrun with alligators and Chester was coming home with me. I tucked him into the cardboard box and safely stowed it below deck.

That night, at Lucy’s suggestion, I slept on the couch with Chester. My punishment didn’t last long, as Lucy was soon pregnant. We had a baby girl in July.

END OF INTERVIEW

Photos of Incident Location:

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Photo of “Riot Ready” Commercial Fishing Vessel:

Fishing Boats

Photo of Sewergator Victim: Chester (Missing Tail Not Shown)

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First Dive

April 28, 2009

Sewergator?

Sewergator?

Clearly Ms. Coventry and her lawyer Louis had seen something unusual—or had they? The dog could have simply gotten caught in some underwater muck and drowned. Typically, alligators live in the south eastern portion of the United States, in the lagoons and swamps. They are usually between 6 and 14 feet. Crocodiles, on the other hand, are not native to the US. It is for this reason that I knew we were searching for an alligator. I still had many questions though: was this one isolated case? Or was there a colony of alligators just below the city’s surface? Smaller alligators tend to live in large groups. Unfortunately, neither Ms. Coventry nor her lawyer were able to see how large the animal was because it was partly submerged.

The Diving Saucer

The Diving Saucer

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, located between 86th and 96th streets, can certainly sustain a population of large reptiles. According to Central Park’s official website, the reservoir, “covers a full one eight of the park’s surface. The 106-acre water body is 40 feet deep and holds over a billion gallons of water,” (http://www.centralpark.com/pages/attractions/reservoir.html). Until 1991, the reservoir was an integral portion of the fresh water supply in the city. Since then though, it has been largely converted into an aesthetic attraction and this has allowed the park’s wildlife to live there in peace. Though not able to utilize Calypso, my ship, in the reservoir, I decided to investigate this incident with my crew using the Diving Saucer. The Saucer can dive as far as 350 meters (equal to approximately 1,150 feet) and can stay underwater for up to five hours (http://www.cousteau.org/technology/diving-saucer). This tool would be perfectly suited to an exploration of the vast reservoir.

Taking a member of my crew with me, the Diving Saucer was transported to New York and prepared for the dive ahead. Alligators are nocturnal, and so I thought that we would descend in the manner of an alligator, at night, in order to catch a glimpse. When we finally descended beneath the dark, still waters of the reservoir, I kept the Diving Saucer’s lights dimmed. I did not want to frighten any creatures, especially this alligator. We viewed the magnificent wildlife that calls the reservoir their home, but still we did not see any sign of the alligator.

As it does every morning, the sun began to rise at about 5:30. My crew members and I had scanned the waters from above and below the surface, but we had not seen an alligator or, for that matter, any unusual or large creature. Though beautiful and majestic, the small fish and birds native to the reservoir were not what we had come in search for. I felt disappointed, but I was not discouraged. We had set out two weeks after the incident relayed by Ms. Coventry. By now, the alligator could have easily wandered over land to another body of water in the park, or could have entered one of the many abandoned sewer tunnels leading into the heart of the city.

I needed more interviews, more information. The reports of a “sewergator” were numerous, but many dated back many, many years. The alligator of the 1935 reports would not be alive today. If the reports have any truth to them, that alligator(s) would have left descendants; Pollock’s could have been one of those descendants. In the wild, alligators can live from 35 to 50 years and they reach sexual maturity at about 10 to 12 years of age. That means that there is a possibility that seven generations of gators have been born since the original sewergater, five of which could still be swimming in the depths, and every generation increasingly adapted to their adopted environment. I absolutely had to find this hidden habitat.