It’s been a difficult 12 months for Venice. With record floods in November, the city was already in recovery mode when the coronavirus began its grip on Italy in late February. As of March 18, the Veneto region, where Venice is located, has the third most cases of coronavirus in the country with over 3,200 positive cases and nearly 100 deaths. But as the country remains on lockdown in an effort to force social distancing, something interesting is happening in the city. For the first time in recent memory, Venice’s canals are crystal clear and wildlife is returning to the waters.
As more people stay indoors, and off the waterways, locals are seeing the effects that their daily activity has on the environment. To put things into perspective, each year Venice sees an average of 26 million to 30 million people per year. March is typically the start of the tourism season, with people pouring into the city on large cruise ships and using private water taxis, public ferries, and gondolas to make their way around. Add to that the local boat traffic, which includes ambulances, police, and delivery boats, and you can imagine how crowded things get.
Venice hasn’t seen clear canal water in a very long time. Dolphins showing up too. Nature just hit the reset button on us pic.twitter.com/RzqOq8ftCj
— Gianluca De Santis (@b8taFPS) March 17, 2020
All of this boat traffic causes the canals’ sediment to stir up and give the water its murky appearance. The activity also doesn’t allow for fish and other marine life to swim without disruption. But now images coming out of Venice have shown that, in just a few short weeks, nature is reemerging. Fish and swans are swimming freely in the canals now that they don’t have to compete with the overwhelming human traffic.
This trend is actually noticeable throughout Italy, where people have viewed dolphins swimming close to the shoreline, wild boar roaming about small towns, and ducks enjoying a bath in Roman fountains. Even the air quality has improved across the country due to people staying off the roads and industrial factories closing their doors.
At a time when Italy is facing enormous hardship, these signs of nature are bringing a smile to people’s faces. “Nature resumes its life….how beautiful,” commented Maria Lanaro in the Venezia Pulita Facebook group, which has been sharing photos and videos of the transformation.
With Venice under lockdown due to the coronavirus, locals are seeing a transformation in the environment.
— Venezia Pulita / Clean Venice (@VeneziaPulita) March 10, 2020
After a week of lockdown… The canals in Venice are all clear and full of fishes. Kinda gives you the idea what will happen to Earth without Humans! pic.twitter.com/FVc7N8vmty
— TheSpaceAcademy.org✨🔭 (@ThespaceAcad) March 17, 2020
Yes just like the original post clearly states. But dolphins are still in Venice, as the governor posted this video today. pic.twitter.com/NIP1eShYjR
— Gianluca De Santis (@b8taFPS) March 18, 2020
This trend is actually spreading throughout Italy as people stay home, allowing wildlife to thrive.
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