Two dolphins were caught on video swimming through Venice canals near the iconic St. Mark’s Square yesterday. The pair, an adult and a calf, visited during heightened coronavirus-related restrictions in the city.
Unlike fake reports of dolphins splashing through Venice canals near the start of the pandemic last year, this week’s sighting is legitimate. The dolphins were first seen close to 8AM near St. Mark’s Square. They hung around in the Giudecca Canal until 3PM, Sandro Mazzariol told The Verge in an email. Mazzariol is a veterinary pathologist and an associate professor at the University of Padova who helped authorities after the latest dolphin sighting.
Authorities attempted to escort the dolphins back out to sea, and away from maritime traffic in the canals, using “acoustic devices,” according to Mazzariol. He worked with police and the coast guard, who assembled a small fleet of seven boats to encourage the dolphins to swim out to the open waters of the Adriatic Sea. They’re not entirely sure where the dolphins are now or if they’re still somewhere in the Venetian lagoon, Mazzariol said.
Biologists are still studying images to figure out what kind of dolphins they are. At “first evaluation” they look like striped dolphins, Mazzariol said, which aren’t usually seen in the Northern Adriatic near Venice. Identifying the species in person was difficult, he added, because the fleet tried to keep a certain distance to avoid “stress[ing]” the dolphins.