A nearly-complete encyclopedia of underwater cryptozoological knowledge



Lower Otay Lake
San Diego County, California, United States

"Otayzilla" is the name given to an alleged monster that has been seen in San Diego County's Otay Lake (also known as Lower Otay) since June 2005.  Fishermen reported an alligator-like lizard stalking the waters of the reservoir, which was created in 1897.

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

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

According to San Diego's 10News, many people had heard of Otayzilla, but far fewer had actually seen it.

Fish that live in the lake include Florida-strain largemouth bass, bluegill, black and white crappie, channel catfish, blue catfish, white catfish and bullhead.  The biggest of these, the blue catfish, can grow to five-and-a-half feet and weigh 100 pounds, and the channel catfish can grow up to four feet and weigh 58 pounds.  The Florida-strain largemouth bass, meanwhile, can reach almost 30 inches and weigh more than 20 pounds.

Rick Sturm, a local herpetoculturist, has another suspect in mind.

"It does look like a Nile monitor," he says.  He believes Otayzilla is a former pet monitor lizard that someone released near Otay Lakes when it got too big to keep.  The lizard can easily survive around the lake by eating fish, mice, and birds, and it will probably not bite unless provoked, he said.  Nile monitors average 31-and-a-half inches but can exceed seven-and-a-half feet.

The Nile monitor explanation might explain the alligator appearance, but not if the witness was close to the creature.  Also, one wonders why picnickers wouldn't have spotted the lizard on land (Otay Lakes County Park is a popular recreation area) since it is essentially a land animal.  None of the known fish in the lake looks like an alligator.  So what could Otayzilla be?  Whatever it is, the creature has stayed quiet in recent years and is yet to reemerge from the depths of the popular fishing reservoir.

Perhaps this creature is related to the Giant Salamanders that supposedly inhabit streams and lake bottoms of the Trinity Alps.  Same state, opposite ends.