Coronavirus and Italy: The canal waters of a tourist-free Venice run clear

The lockdown in Italy due to coronavirus has had an unexpected side-effect in Venice: The canals have become clear and free of pollution.

Videos circulated on social media show that, since tourists abandoned the city, the notoriously dirty waters of the canals have become clear enough to see straight to the bottom.

There are also reports of schools of fish swimming in the canals.

Ships and boats plying the canals also stir up sediment, which has now settled to the bottom.

A Facebook group has been created called Venezia Pulita (Clean Venice), where people are sharing their photos of the newly pristine waters.

Alice Stocco, from the University of Venice's Department of Environmental Sciences, Informatics and Statistics, wrote that the lockdown was giving scientists the opportunity to study the environmental impact people have on the city and she invited people to share their photos to assist.

"We are experiencing a difficult time, but we can use it to document the positive sides of the quarantine for the protection of Venice," she wrote.


"We are collecting observations for scientific research that can help suggest sustainability systems for the lagoon. This is why we count on you residents, who from home or in the few necessary movements you see the city as we probably have never seen it."

The news has not been immune to social media's predilection for hoaxes though, with many people sharing a video of dolphin supposedly swimming in the canals. In actual fact, the video was taken on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia.

Other comedic posts have gone further, suggesting crocodiles had returned to the canals.