Dolphins And Other Sea Life Return To Venice Canals And Italian Ports During Quarantine
This is an unexpected upside to the quarantine.
Public life in Italy has ground to a halt as the country begins its second week of nationwide quarantine to slow the spread of coronavirus. While the streets have been empty of people, residents in Venice have discovered that the city’s canals have cleared up significantly, revealing visible fish swimming throughout.
With the lack of tourists that usually abound, the accompanying lack of traffic has allowed sediment to stay at the bottom.
“The water now looks clearer because there is less traffic on the canals, allowing sediment to stay at the bottom,” a spokesperson for the Venice mayor’s office told CNN. “It’s because there is less boat traffic that usually brings sediment to the top of the water’s surface.”
But there is an actual environmental benefit to the lack of traffic, which usually includes public water taxis and buses called vaporetti.
“The air, however, is less polluted since there are less vaporetti and boat traffic than usual because of the restricted movement of residents,” the spokesperson said.
Twitter user @ikaveri shared some photos of the clear canals, writing, “Here’s an unexpected side effect of the pandemic — the water’s flowing through the canals of Venice is clear for the first time in forever. The fish are visible, the swans returned.”
Here's an unexpected side effect of the pandemic – the water's flowing through the canals of Venice is clear for the first time in forever. The fish are visible, the swans returned. pic.twitter.com/2egMGhJs7f
— Kaveri 🇮🇳 (@ikaveri) March 16, 2020
Venice isn’t the only Italian location benefiting environmentally from the lockdown. Twitter user @Cosodelirante also shared some photos showing ducks in the fountains of Rome and wild boars in Tuscany. People have also reported seeing dolphins around Italy.
Boars in the middle of my hometown, dolphins in the port of Cagliari, ducks in the fountains in Rome, Venice canals have now clean water full of fishes. Air pollution dropped. Nature is reclaiming its spaces during quarantine in Italy. #COVID19 #COVIDー19 pic.twitter.com/dr6QILfF9V
— Francesco Delrio (@Cosodelirante) March 15, 2020
One dolphin was filmed at the port of Cagliari, which is the capital of Italian island Sardinia that’s located almost 600 miles away from Venice. Reports say ferry traffic has stopped there, allowing the return of the marine mammals. This video was posted to YouTube by Angel Media.
There’s even a Clean Venice Facebook page showing images of the city’s newly clear waters.
Venice residents have been protesting overcrowding of the city due to tourism; it generally hosts 36 million tourists a year. Last November, the waves caused by large cruise ships during heavy rainfall caused flooding and infrastructure damage that led to a state of emergency.
Italy has been on lockdown since March 11, with all non-essential businesses closed.
The coronavirus has been causing environmental change to other areas of the world as well.
In China, a huge reduction in traffic has resulted in less air pollution, as shown in NASA satellite images. These maps show levels of nitrogen dioxide, a noxious gas that originates from the burning of fossil fuels.
“This is the first time I have seen such a dramatic drop-off over such a wide area for a specific event,” Fei Liu, an air quality researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said in a press release.
Although a dropoff in pollution is typically seen this time of year due to the Chinese new year, experts believe this year is different.
“This year, the reduction rate is more significant than in past years and it has lasted longer,” Liu said. “I am not surprised because many cities nationwide have taken measures to minimize the spread of the virus.”
It’s nice to know an environmental reset might be a silver lining to this pandemic!