An octopus has been spotted in the now crystal clear canals of Venice under coronavirus lockdown.
The eight-legged visitor has left Venitian scientists confused after it was seen swimming near the Piazzale Roma last week and reported to scientists at the city’s Institute of Marine Sciences.
Local Italian experts believe that the octopus has either escaped from a fish market or come from the Adriatic Sea, or it could have been popped in the water by local pranksters.
Director of Venice’s Natural History Museum, Luca Mizzan, said: “It’s really very strange that an octopus can get there in that environment so far from the sea and close to the hinterland.
“HE IS NOT AFRAID”
“Nothing can be ruled out even if it’s a joke. The video shows that he is a visibly healthy octopus, he is not afraid,” he told Corriere del Veneto.
Octopuses are a very rare sight in the lagoon around Venice that has seen jellyfish, crabs and schools of fish return to the waters since the tourists and boats all left.
Since the water has stopped being constantly churned by boats, the sediment has settled and the clearer water means that people can now see the fish.
Noise pollution has decreased dramatically which encourages living things that would otherwise have been frightened off.
Local scientists believe the water has not been this clear in living memory.
Zoologist Andrea Mangoni said: “The flora and fauna of the lagoon have not changed during lockdown. What has changed is our chance to see them.”
Mangoni’s film of a jellyfish swimming slowly through translucent canal water has gone viral on social media.
Mangoni says life in Venice these days is “like being on a coral reef”.
He added “The number of colours and lifeforms is extraordinary, which makes the lagoon unique,” he said.
But local experts have warned that the few months of lockdown won’t suffice to make a significant impact on the quality of the lagoon’s ecosystem.
Tourists are expected to return to the city in June when Italy plans to reopen bars and restaurants.