With more than 304,500 people infected with the novel coronavirus across the globe, the pandemic has forced countries to shut their borders and impose major lockdowns to prevent the outbreak.
Italy reported nearly 800 deaths due to COVID-19 on Saturday, March 21, compelling Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to order a lockdown except for the provision of essential services.
Amid the lockdown, Italians reported seeing wildlife such as swans, dolphins and fishes returning to city's clearer ports and canals due to a halt in the tourism and gondola traffic, calling it a silver lining in the present scenario.
Italians posted pictures and videos of dolphins, swans and fishes making an appearance in the water bodies that usually stay muddied due to boat traffic, putting a spotlight on the impact of human intervention and calling it " Nature's reset button."
Twitterati widely shared heartwarming images of spotting the animals.
One resident posted photos of dolphins enjoying the newly quiet waterways, saying, "Venice hasn't seen clear canal water in a very long time. Dolphins showing up too. Nature just hit the reset button on us."
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
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
The claims crossed borders with Kaveri Ganapathy Ahuja, who lives in New Delhi, tweeting about the swans that "returned" to Venice canals. The Tweet hit a million likes.
"Here's an unexpected side effect of the pandemic," her tweet reads. "The water 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
A number of media outlets picked up the same.
Dolphins, Swans returned to Italy's coast of Venice amid Coronavirus lockdown
The claim is misleading
Swans are known to be spotted regularly on the Italian coast. Dolphin Images were not shot in Venice.
"The swans in the viral posts regularly appear in the canals of Burano, a small island in the greater Venice metropolitan area, where the photos were taken. The "Venetian" dolphins were filmed at a port in Sardinia, in the Mediterranean Sea, hundreds of miles away," detailed National Geographic.
Reportedly, dolphins are a rare sight in the Venetian Lagoon, but multiple people have reported spotting them around the country, according to W Magazine.
Pierpaolo Campostrini, the managing director for Consortium for Managing Research Activities in the Venice Lagoon, in an email to ABC News, clarified that the transparent water seems to be a natural consequence of less boat traffic, which usually kicks sediment to the surface.
"The low turbidity of the water does not mean cleanliness," Campostrini said. "The transparency is due to the absence of sediment resuspension."
Also, the Venice Mayor's office told CNN that while the canals may look clearer than before the lockdown, the water quality has not necessarily improved.
Therefore, Given the evidence, it can be ascertained that a misleading connection was made between the coronavirus lockdown and appearance of wildlife on the Italian coast of Venice.
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