With a decrease in human influence due to the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown in Italy, for the first time in years, the waters in the famous canals of Venice are clear.
The coronavirus lockdown has left a majority of the city deserted, leading to a significant decrease in water traffic and a complete halt in tourism.
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However, according to a statement from the Venice mayor’s office given to CNN, the change in the canal’s waters’ transparency does not correlate to an improvement in quality.
“The water now looks clearer because there is less traffic on the canals, allowing the sediment to stay at the bottom,” a spokesman explained. “It’s because there is less boat traffic that usually brings sediment to the top of the water’s surface.”
Many people have taken to social media to share images of the translucent waters stating that it is a silver lining of the quarantine.
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
Photos have also emerged on social media of animals such as swans and dolphins returning to Italy due to the decrease in human activity from the lockdown. However, these images are false.
The earth always knows how to find a balance. Less vehicles, less pollution, Side effect of the pandemic. Venice is clear for the first time in forever. The fish are visible, the swans returned. Even dolphins are reappeared in italy. #CoronavirusPandemic pic.twitter.com/bG2VdQHTM1
— AFSHAN 👑 (@QueenAfshan) March 18, 2020
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
According to an article published by National Geographic, the swans in these posts are regular visitors of the canals in Burano, a small island in the greater Venice metropolitan area, where the photos were taken.
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Additionally, the dolphin videos were captured at a port in Sardinia, in the Mediterranean Sea, which is hundreds of kilometres away from Venice.
The spread of misinformation is a dangerous byproduct of public panic and is further facilitated by the convenience of social media.
However, it only adds to the pre-existing heightened anxiety surrounding an issue as severe as the coronavirus pandemic.
For instance, in a now-deleted tweet, Nadine Dorries, British Health Minister and Conservative MP, claimed that Italy had stopped intubating Italian patients over the age of 60.
Dorries also stated in the tweet that all patients that were currently on ventilators in the ICU were younger than 60 and unable to be weaned to breathe on their own.
The tweet concluded by emphasizing the vital importance of social distancing to defeat coronavirus.
This information is also false, and the Italian embassy in the UK accused Dorries of spreading fake news in their own tweet, urging her to attest that the information she shared was untrue.
— Italy in UK (@ItalyinUK) March 20, 2020
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect the latest information regarding wildlife returning to Italy.