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First jellyfish, now octopus, sea animal sightings in Italy’s Venice canals increase

An octopus is the latest creature to be spotted in the canals of Venice after the coronavirus lockdown turned the water clear.

The octopus was sighted near the Piazzale Roma last week and reported to experts at the city’s Institute of Marine Sciences.

Scientists are puzzled at how the creature got there, suggesting it could have come in from the Adriatic Sea, escaped from a fish market or been released as a prank.

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The lockdown has brought the city’s boats and gondolas to a standstill, allowing sediment to settle at the bottom and leaving the surface clear, experts say.

‘It’s really very strange than an octopus can get there in that environment so far from the sea and close to the hinterland,’ said Luca Mizzan, the director of the city’s Natural History Museum.

‘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.

Irene Guarneri, one of the ecologists examining the footage, said octopuses were not ‘exempt’ from the lagoon but were ‘certainly very rare’.

‘Surely it is related to the decrease in traffic due to the lockdown,’ she said.

Jellyfish, crabs and schools of fish have already been spotted in the water after the city was emptied of its usual millions of tourists because of the pandemic.

‘The flora and fauna of the lagoon have not changed during lockdown. What has changed is our chance to see them,’ says zoologist Andrea Mangoni.

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The waters are no longer stirred by the thousands of boats, taxis, vaporetti, and gondolas that usually cross it, meaning debris settles at the bottom.

For Mangoni, this is an opportunity to rediscover the very diverse ecosystem that populates the Venice Lagoon.

His film of a jellyfish swimming slowly though translucent canal water has gone viral on social media.

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