The viral videos of dolphins returning to Venice canals turned out false considering they were filmed at a port in Sardinia in the Mediterranean Sea. This is hundreds of miles away from Venice.
Editors Note: An earlier version of this story mentions that "dolphins had returned to Venice canals". The claim was later declared not true. Therefore, we have updated the story.
With countries struggling to contain the spread of COVID-19, many places have been locked down, specifically Europe, where most nonessential travel has been banned. The death toll figures are rising at an alarming pace at 4,032, reported as of March 21. Popular tourist attractions in Venice, Italy, look nothing like they usually do, without visitors heaving its streets and canals throughout the year. As residents continue to stay home during the lockdown, the boat traffic in Venice has completely come to a halt. However, locals in Venice have noticed that the water in the city's canals has become much clearer as the pandemic keeps the tourists away.
With no boat traffic, the canals and lakes in Venice have become so still that dolphins and swans have returnedhttps://t.co/3GLyYqNaKn— WION (@WIONews) March 18, 2020
Recently, social media users have been sharing beautiful pictures of small fishes swimming in the clear waters of Venice. Not just that, there were several reports that claimed nature and wildlife had taken over the coronavirus-struck cities with several animals and birds returning. Turns out, the news that made us happy was untrue.
Did you hear the one about the dolphins in Venice? They were in Sardinia. What about the swans? They were there already.— Van Badham (@vanbadham) March 21, 2020
Happy animal stories are the internet lifeblood of the corona era. But they’re not true.
Great piece. Also, follow @PicPedant https://t.co/r9rM2na3Mo
National Geographic reported that the photos shared by social media users about swans and dolphins returning to the Venice canals were, in fact, fake news. The photos gave us hope that Covid-19 was regenerative for nature in Italy amid the lockdown. However, the report noted that swans regularly appear in the canals of Burano, an island in the greater Venice metropolitan area, where the viral photos were actually taken. Meanwhile, the videos of dolphins returning to the Venice canals are also false as they were filmed at a port in Sardinia in the Mediterranean Sea. This is hundreds of miles away from Venice.
Damn, I got sucked in on that one! Shows how desperate we are for good news!— Jane Caro (@JaneCaro) March 21, 2020
The report noted that the viral tweet came from a Twitter user named Kaveri Ganapathy Ahuja who shared photos about swans that “returned” to Venice canals. The post went viral and hit over a million likes. “Here's an unexpected side effect of the pandemic,” she tweeted. “The water flowing through the canals of Venice is clear for the first time in forever. The fish are visible, the swans returned.” Ahuja who hails from New Delhi, India claimed that she put together various photos in one tweet and was unaware that swans were regular in Burano. “The tweet was just about sharing something that brought me joy in these gloomy times,” she was quoted as saying by Nat Geo. “I wish there was an edit option on Twitter just for moments like this,” Ahuja said she had no idea her tweet would go viral.
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
However, since the news of the water turning clear in Venice canals turned out to be true, she does not intend to delete the tweet. “It’s a personal record for me, and I would not like to delete it,” she added. Soon after this, comments began pouring in, with some admiring the unexpected side effects of the lockdown and others blaming human intrusion for our degrading environmental conditions.
As the nationwide lockdown in Italy enters its second week due to the #coronavirus outbreak, Venice's canals appear to be crystal clear. Follow for live updates: https://t.co/IviOWyuNOu pic.twitter.com/yTyObHMZFX— Reuters (@Reuters) March 17, 2020
The mayor's office in Venice told CNN that the drastic change happened due to less boat traffic. "The water now looks clearer because there is less traffic on the canals, allowing the sediment to stay at the bottom," explained the spokesman. "It's because there is less boat traffic that usually brings sediment to the top of the water's surface." The spokesman further noted that the air quality in the area has definitely improved even though water pollution hasn't decreased. "The air, however, is less polluted since there are less vaporetti and boat traffic than usual because of the restricted movement of residents," he noted.
Disclaimer: Information about COVID-19 is swiftly changing, and McGill Media is committed to providing the most recent and verified updates in our articles and reportage. However, considering the frequency in developments, some of the information/data in this article may have changed since the time of publication. Therefore, we encourage you to also regularly check online resources from local public health departments, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization.