April 22, 2021

Jellyfish Captured Swimming In Crystal Clear Venice Canals

The lack of boats clogging the famous Venetian canals in Italy has made it possible for the city’s marine life to flourish, with one local zoologist capturing a barrel jellyfish gliding gracefully through the now crystal-clear waters.

Andrea Mangoni, a zoologist and photographer according to his Instagram account, shared a clip of the jellyfish just inches below the surface as it floated through the now vacant canals, the city’s historic buildings reflected in the water.

Since Italy has remained under stringent lockdown restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Venice’s renowned waterways have become uncharacteristically quiet. The city’s typically congested boat traffic has lessened, the reduced emissions and pollution resulting in noticeably clearer waters.

In an interview with Reuters, Magoni said the low tide and reduced traffic due to the country’s ongoing travel restrictions have made it possible to observe marine life within the center of the city.

Magoni shared the clip on April 13, a rough translation of his caption reading: “Sometimes you just have to change your point of view, to admire a ghost moving through the Venetian palaces.

“Thanks to the exceptional calm of the canals of Venice due to the absence of boats, this jellyfish (rhizostoma pulmo) swam in the transparent waters near the Baretteri Bridge, and seemed to slip through the reflection of the building.” The bridge, Ponte dei Baretteri, is located near the city’s St Mark’s Square.

Earlier in March, Mangoni also captured footage of another barrel jellyfish floating in the waters of Piran, Slovenia.


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Mentre passeggiavamo lungo il porto di Piran, in Slovenia, abbiamo visto nuotare pochi centimetri sotto la superficie dell’acqua questo stupendo polmone di mare (Rhizostoma pulmo) una scifomedusa piuttosto comune ma di grande bellezza e interesse per le sue forme (un incrocio tra un cavolfiore e un lampadario in vetro di Murano 😉) e le sue dimensioni notevoli. Queste meduse infatti possono raggiungere i 60 cm di diametro e i 10 kg di peso, anche se recentemente in Cornovaglia ne è stato avvistato un esemplare grande quanto un uomo! Nonostante la grandezza, questa specie di Medusa è poco pericolosa per la nostra salute e solo persone particolarmente sensibili possono avere persistenti irritazioni dopo essere entrati in contatto coi suoi tentacoli.

A post shared by Andrea Mangoni (@andrea.mangoni) on

The clear and boat-free canal water, due to the country’s lockdown, has brought out more than jellyfish too — fish are visible again and swans have been able to chill out.

However, the clearer water doesn’t necessarily mean it’s much cleaner. A Venice official says less action on the canals simply allows gross stuff to stay at the bottom, adding … “It’s because there is less boat traffic that usually brings sediment to the top of the water’s surface.”

Image credits: Marco Capovilla

“I was able to film a jellyfish that was swimming close to the San Marco square, only [a] few inches below the water surface,” said among others the biologist. The waterways in Venice have been crystal clear for quite a while now due to the coronavirus lockdown that’s still ongoing in Italy.

Image credits: Marco Capovilla

While people are claiming that reduced water traffic has allowed wildlife to “come back” to the Venice canals, the mayor’s office insists it was always there. “The water now looks clearer because there is less traffic on the canals, allowing the sediment to stay at the bottom,” a spokesman told CNN news. “It’s because there is less boat traffic that usually brings sediment to the top of the water’s surface.”

Image credits: Marco Capovilla

Regardless of the reason, both Venetians and people of the Internet are pleased about the change the city is experiencing. Usually overwhelmed by tourists, Venice is now allowed to take a deep, peaceful breath. “Seeing so many fish in the canals was extremely rare before the quarantine. I hope we’ll learn from this tragic time and that when this is over, Venice will be able to strike a balance between tourist crowds and cleanliness,” said local resident Martina Bettoni.

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