There are many effects that the lockdown, linked to the spread of Covid-19, is having on both the human population and the environment. Already from the beginning of the epidemic in China, it had been noticed how the severe measures taken by the government (suspended school lessons, canceled sporting events, highly limited movements, offices, shops and most of the closed factories) also had a positive impact on the pollution, with a CO2 rate falling to very low levels. Similar measures in Italy, albeit milder, have also led to a temporary decrease in polluting emissions throughout the North of the Country.
This temporary good news, however, must not give rise to false illusions: if it is true that at the moment a whole series of parameters relating to polluting agents have reduced, it is also true that many researchers invite not to get caught up in easy optimism. The moments of falling emissions linked to a specific crisis have always been followed, at a later time, by an acceleration of air pollution. So be careful!
Let’s go back to animals and their, at least apparent, reconquest of urban spaces. In these days the italian soclial media have been cheered by pictures of Mallards enjoying their time in the “Barcaccia” Fountain in Rome, Wild Boars approaching the houses (but really more than we have seen in recent years?), Mute Swans crossing the canals of Venice (characterized by a momentary clarity of the waters) and dolphins observed while intent to play a few centimeters from the docks of the ports.
A mixture of these the last two news created a great confusion!
Unfortunately, several internetional blogs and newspapers started talking about the appearance of dolphins in the canals of Venice (news also mentioned by the famous actress Sharon Stone in one of her latest Instagram posts!). Let’s be clear: first of all the momentary stop of human activities did not completely eliminate the pollution from these famous canals (even if the turbidity linked to the passage of the boats has certainly reduced) and above all the dolphins have not been spotted swimming between the canals of this marvellous city!
The dolphins filmed in these days are Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) – and not Harbour Porpoises (Phocoena phocoena), a species that has appeared as picture in many articles, including Italian ones – and have not been spotted in the Venetian city but several hundred of kilometers away (specifically in the ports of Trieste and Cagliari). If it is true that this species can sometimes be found in unusual environments (sightings several kilometers upstream of the mouth in the Thames, Tiber and Arno rivers are known), and that in the past it has also been sighted in the Venetian Lagoon, this is not the case.
Photomontages of crocodiles in the Venetian canals have also begun to appear but on these, although there are always some people ready to believe everything, we are sure that we don’t need to give further info in a zoological perspective.
To conclude, we would like to underline that, despite the almost total block of human activities is, in many countries of the world, favoring wildlife and altering its behavior in some way (in the next few days we will tell you about the scientific study that we are carrying out), it is always advisable to pay close attention to the news on the web!