A pair of dolphins has been spotted in Venice's lagoon, just a few hundred yards from St Mark's Square.
The two dolphins were photographed at the entrance to the Grand Canal, just off a promontory called Punta della Dogana.
It is thought they were drawn into the lagoon by shoals of fish, which are thriving after a year of lockdown because of the absence of tourism and a dramatic decline in boat traffic.
"Look, look dolphins!" a man is heard to say on video footage posted on social media and Italian news sites.
Observers said the dolphins appeared to be in good health and behaving normally.
The local coast guard said the sightings were "exceptional" but told locals to keep a distance from the animals.
"In case of further sightings in the lagoon, we would ask everyone to exercise the greatest caution, not to disturb the cetaceans and to report their presence to the coast guard.
"The dolphins did not appear to be in difficulty and after a few minutes left the area, reappearing a little later just inside the Grand Canal," the coast guard said in a statement.
While dolphins are sometimes spotted in the Venetian lagoon, it is rare for them to come close to normally busy areas such as St Mark's and the Giudecca Canal.
Venice is almost devoid of international tourists as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, with tourism-related businesses such as hotels, restaurants, shops, tour guides and gondoliers saying the impact on their livelihood has been catastrophic.
There were reports of dolphins swimming in Venice's canals exactly a year ago, during Italy's first lockdown, but they turned out to be fake news.
Images of Venice were spliced with footage of dolphins off the coast of Sardinia, hundreds of miles away.
The Telegraph, London