'Otayzilla' Lurking Around Otay Lakes

Experts Believe Mystery Creature Is Monitor Lizard

Fishermen flocking to Otay Lakes are discovering there is more than just fish in the water.

The area just opened last week, but instead of talking about fishing, people have something else on their minds, 10News reported.

Since June 2005, a creature dubbed "Otayzilla" has been lurking in and around the water.

The mystery monster has been spotted at several places around the lake, which is located just south of Otay Lakes Road in Otay Mesa.

"I was actually coming up on a boat at the end of Otay arm," said Jose Gutierrez, a fisherman. "There have been other fisherman who have seen it."

It's not quite as scary as Godzilla, but Otayzilla is very real, according to 10News.

"I know one fisherman, about a week ago, he said he thought it was an alligator," said Gutierrez.

Officials say Otayzilla is not an alligator, but a monitor lizard.

A lot of people haven't seen Otayzilla, but most have heard about it.

Several fishermen told 10News they had never seen Otayzilla.

Mark Gartland is actually looking forward to seeing the creature.

"I hope to see him. I'd like to be able to spot him," Gartland told 10News.

Rick Sturm is a herpetoculturist and knows his reptiles, according to 10News.

"It does look like a Nile monitor," Sturm said about Otayzilla.

Sturm owns a monitor lizard, which resembles Otayzilla. He believes it used to be someone's pet and they released it into Otay Lakes.

"(Potential pet owners) need to talk to people at the pet shop and ask them what the adult size is going to be and even go beyond that. Ask them, 'What size cage do I need to hold this animal properly as an adult?'" Sturm said.

Sturm said when people don't do their homework, they don't realize what it takes to care for the creatures.

"It's important to realize most animals getting released are not going to survive. You (may) think a lake is perfect for them, but it's not," Sturm said.

Instead of releasing a pet into the wild, other, better options include adoption, pet shop return or calling animal control, Sturm suggested.

Sturm said anyone who has a chance encounter with Otayzilla should knwo the creature will probably not bite unless it's provoked. He believes the lizard can easily survive around the lake by feeding on fish, mice and birds.

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