Lake Anna’s Mysteries: Alligators or Not?

Lake Anna is a popular spot for fishing, swimming, boating, and camping. However, there is one question that has been puzzling people for years: Does Lake Anna have alligators? While there have been reports of alligator sightings over the years, no new reports have been made in over 5 years. Are alligators lurking in the murky waters of Lake Anna, were the alligator sightings real, and what happened to them?

Our beautiful 13,000-acre freshwater reservoir is located in Louisa, Orange, and Spotsylvania counties and was formed by the North Anna Dam in 1972. It was projected to take three years to completely fill the lake, but with the additional rainfall from Hurricane Agnes, the lake was full in only 18 months.

The first alligator sighting at Lake Anna

The first sighting of a giant reptile near the Lake Anna nuclear power station of the Virginia Electric and Power Company was in 1978 and was reported by a couple of visitors who were accompanied by a local fishing guide.

Although unphotographed and unproven, the fishing guide was quoted in the New York Times saying, “I know an alligator when I see one, and I wasn’t interested in fishing for one. We left.”

The waters of Lake Anna are warm enough to keep an alligator active in the summer, but they would not be able to survive Virginia’s severe winters. Experts say alligators are unlikely to flourish this far north, as their eggs must be kept fairly warm, and spring in Virginia can still be too cool for an alligator’s comfort. 

Alligators in Virginia coming North

In a story reported by WVTF radio in 2014, Don Schwab from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says alligators are moving north – and have been spotted close to the Virginia border in the Great Dismal Swamp, a preserve that is linked all the way to Florida’s Intracoastal Waterways.

“We’ve had a lot of alligators throughout the state in weird places — actually been in sewers in Norfolk,” Schwab reported to WVTF radio. He also said that there have been plenty of Virginias who had baby alligators as pets who could have been freed or gotten loose when they got too big… but not to be worried since their eggs need to be kept warm and it simply gets too cold in Virginia.

According to an article in Richmond Times, the DWR wasn’t surprised to hear there was an alligator in the lake. When the lake was created in the 1970s it was stocked with baby bass and other fish by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. But the presence of an alligator would have come from Virginia residents who keep exotic wildlife and release them in nearby waters when they grow tired of them…

So, are there… or aren’t there alligators in the lake?

There are no longer any known alligators in the lake, and if one was discovered, the Virginia Division of Gaming Inland Fisheries would be able to investigate and remove it.

Resources

  • New York Times article: https://www.nytimes.com/1978/05/19/archives/no-waves-made-by-an-alligator-at-atomic-plant.html
  • The Richmond times article: https://richmond.com/entertainment/lake-anna/article_b280c36c-f145-50ff-9e4a-c9b8fd7123f3.html

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