The lizardlike creature rose again yesterday from the muddy waters of Seneca Creek in eastern Baltimore County.
No one is quite sure what it is - perhaps an alligator or, more likely, its cousin, a caiman. And no one has been able to catch the animal, which is said to be about 2 to 3 feet long and has been, according to residents, living under a gazebo and playing in the creek's waters for about two weeks.
When the reptile reared its head yesterday afternoon - maybe to bask in the summer sun or to torment one of the small dogs playing near the creek's shoreline - somebody called 911.
Soon, Baltimore County police and Maryland Natural Resources Police swarmed the Bowleys Quarters neighborhood. County officers chased the animal with plastic bags, witnesses reported. They were unsuccessful.
Natural Resources Police arrived on a boat, but they didn't fare any better.
After about 90 minutes, all the officers had departed, leaving the Bowleys Quarters residents alone with the creature. A handful of adults stood at the mucky shoreline, eyes unblinking as they stared at the water.
One man ripped a decorative fishing net off the wall of his den and used it to try to scoop the animal out of the water.
"Every time I got close, it would duck its head under the green stuff on top of the water," Chic Ayd said.
Undaunted children waded into the creek and gathered on rock piles, pointing whenever they thought they saw the creature.
"There it is!"
"There's two of them! Wait, maybe that's a stick."
"I want to see what happens when this big alligator comes out of the water. I want to see if all the little kids go running," said James Willamis, 16.
Like the purported Loch Ness Monster, the creature appeared in short bursts, and people saw only a dark head poking out here and a twiglike tail jutting out there.
Andy Cicchini, whose house backs up to the creek, said he saw the reptile crouched under a neighbor's gazebo a few days ago. He said it was about 3 feet long and had features like an alligator.
However, the animal could be a caiman, which is similar to an alligator and can legally be kept as a pet in Maryland, police said.
The children seemed to be having fun yesterday, but some of the adults said they wanted the reptile gone.
"I don't like the kids swimming out there with that thing in it," Cicchini said as he again called the Department of Natural Resources.