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These dolphins took a day trip up Venice’s Grand Canal




(CNN) – It was one of the videos that went viral during the first closing of 2020, which encouraged everyone as they sat at home: a dolphin swimming on the surface in what was intended to be a Venetian canal.

It was false, of course: he turned out to have been shot near the port of Cagliari, on the island of Sardinia.

But on Monday, two dolphins actually made a day trip to Venice.

They made a trip along the famous Grand Canal, before swimming to the island of Giudecca, where they saw no more and no less than two churches of the Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio, before returning home to the Adriatic Sea.

His visit came when the city is in another blockade while Italy struggles with a third wave of Covid-19.

And while they were in danger during their stay in the city, the dolphins are believed to have come out of danger.

Marco Busetto, co-owner of the drainage company, first saw the pair of striped dolphins, who are believed to be an adult and a young man, probably a mother and son, around 6 p.m. Heir to Busetto Giuseppe, on the Giudecca Canal, a wide waterway that separates the long island of Giudecca from the historic center of Venice. He alerted authorities.

An hour later they appeared at the mouth of the Grand Canal, swimming along the iconic waterway to the famous Church of Salute, where Busetto’s team – now parked to start work – returned to them. shout out.

“It was a lovely surprise: something unique and special, to see them and think about how far they had come on the Grand Canal,” said Luca Folin, who works for the company and fired video which went viral quickly, he told CNN.

“But they were also in great danger because of all the ships coming and going, which could have injured them with their propellers.” The group tried to stop traffic while waiting for police to arrive.

The rescue mission

The CERT team is looking for dolphins in the lagoon of Venice.

The CERT team is looking for dolphins in the lagoon of Venice.


Meanwhile, authorities summoned the experts, a team of CERT, or Stranded Cetacean Emergency Response Team, from nearby Padua University. The dolphins reached the Giudecca canal, between the churches of San Giorgio Maggiore and Zitelle, large marble-clad churches designed by Palladio, which enjoy stunning views over St. Mark’s Basin and St. Mark’s Square.

“The traffic was heavy and we noticed that the dolphins were completely disoriented, swimming in all directions, mostly because they were scared,” Guido Pietroluongo of the group told CNN.

“Most dolphins are sound-oriented, but here, both sides of the canal had walls and there were boats around. Authorities said they had been trapped there for two hours, swimming back and forth.”

And so to the rescue. The CERT team, led by Professor Sandro Mazzariol, coordinated nine ships of the Venice authorities in a chain, trying to direct the animals to the Lido, the long strip of beach in Venice, and a point where the Venetian lagoon is located. with the Adriatic Sea. It took two and a half hours.

“Time and time again a ferry would cross the chain for the dolphins to get lost again,” Pietroluongo says.

Finally, with another redirected traffic, the “chain” worked and the dolphins turned their backs on St. Mark’s Square, towards the Lido.

“We realized the animals were at the safest point and we wanted to see what they would do,” Pietroluongo says.

“We spotted them three times and lost them completely. They hadn’t returned to the Grand Canal, so I hope they take the right direction.”

They are believed to have returned safely to the Adriatic.

The CERT team was on alert for him to be called back on Tuesday, but there have been no sightings.

“We hope they are free in their environment now,” he says.

A rare sighting

Two striped dolphins were found swimming around Venice.

The couple swims through the back of the famous Salute church.


Striped dolphins, as the CERT team believe, after observing the images, are a rare sight in the northern Adriatic. Deep-water mammals are often found in the Tyrrhenian and Ionian seas and in the southern half of the Adriatic, says Pietroluongo. In addition, they usually swim with pods of up to 100, not pairs, and stay away from shore. The last time he was seen in the lagoon of Venice was four years ago; bottlenose dolphins are seen more regularly.

The group thinks this couple may have lost their way while looking for food. “They could have been following the dams on the middle Adriatic, pushed north and suddenly found themselves in Venice,” he says.

Or who knows: maybe they also wanted the opportunity to see the empty, closed city that has once again made the rounds on social media.

Pietroluongo describes the observation as “cheerful”. Meanwhile, Luca Folin, who shot the video of the creatures on the Grand Canal, called it “a beautiful and rare moment … at a sad time.”

“I posted it on social media without thinking it would go around the world,” he says.

“To be honest, I posted it to give a good greeting to my fellow citizens in such a sad year, but making the video go viral is nice because it means I made others smile.”