Something Extraordinary Is Happening In Italy After The COVID-19 Outbreak


Tom Hale

Senior Journalist

clockMar 18 2020, 19:09 UTC

A stock image of Venice taken before the COVID-19 quarantine measures. Alexander Shutski/Shutterstock

Even in these worrying and confusing times, there’s still some positive news to be found. Many wildlife lovers in Italy are reporting that animals have reclaimed their canals and coastlines in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

Italy currently has the highest number of COVID-19 cases outside of China, over 35,500 confirmed cases as of March 18, 2020. On February 21, 2020, the Italian government imposed a strict quarantine across the northern province of Lodi in Lombardy in an attempt to restrict the movement of the population in response to the growing number of COVID-19 cases in the area. By March 9, 2020, with the virus still spreading like wildfire, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte extended the quarantine to include the whole country. 


Streets are empty, roads are dead, airports are quiet, and waterways are still. Within a matter of weeks, the lack of busy commuters, frantic tourists, and noisy vehicles has already had a noticeable effect on the country’s biodiversity. 

Venice’s world-famous canals, for example, have become clear enough to see marine life.


As seen in videos shown on the Venezia Pulita / Clean Venice Twitter group, the usually murky waters of Venice have become clear and habitable for fish again because less sediment is being kicked up by boats and gondolas in the canals. Along with small fish, white swans and other waterfowl have also been seen enjoying the still waters. 


“A breath for the planet... Beautiful,” one person commented (in Italian).


Many others have suggested we use this as a point of reflection when considering humanity's relationship to the wider environment. Another Twitter user remarked: As bad as the coronavirus outbreak is, it’s really showing the effect humans have had on the environment. Wildlife has returned to previously traveled waters, even the water in Venice is now clean and clear. It’s giving the world a chance to breathe and repair.”

Elsewhere, a dolphin was filmed (video below) frolicking along a quay in Cagliari, one of the largest seaports in the Mediterranean Sea and the capital city of the Italian island of Sardinia. While bottlenose dolphins are no stranger to certain corners of the Mediterranean Sea, it’s rare to see them this close to the shores of the bustling port city as its typically jammed with freight ships and ferries. 


If you’re on the hunt for more feel-good news, you can learn more about how the COVID-19 outbreak has affected the environment right here.



  • tag
  • biodiversity,

  • virus,

  • disease,

  • marine life,

  • wildlife,

  • outbreak,

  • Italy,

  • coronavirus,

  • viral outbreak,

  • Venice,

  • covid-19