Locals and tourists alike woke up on Sunday morning to find a tract of Venice’s Grand Canal had turned fluorescent green. The water surrounding one of the canal’s most photographed spots, Rialto Bridge, looked otherwordly and left officials and onlookers wondering for hours what could have happened.
After the Italian fire service helped the regional environmental protection agency take samples for testing, the gondoliers could be seen rowing through the phosphorescent patch while tourists took pictures of the strange phenomenon.
On Sunday evening, after first analyses of the water were carried out, the city’s prefect said the colour may have been caused by a substance normally used by plumbers.
Michele Di Bari told journalists: “At the moment, the substance appears to be a ‘tracker’, a liquid used when a leakage occurs to learn where the water has gone.”
The studies on the water carried out so far by officials haven’t highlighted any danger to the health of the population.
More analyses are being undertaken, Mr Di Bari added, to fully shed a light on the nature and causes of the event.
Officials have also intensified security across the city to monitor any issue and prevent further similar events, the prefect announced.
Speculation is now rife over who may be behind the green water, local media Corriere del Veneto wrote.
Local reports said this phenomenon is likely to be attributed to eco-activists.
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But no organisation has yet claimed responsibility for the action, and members of Ultima Generazione [Last Generation], the Italian version of Just Stop Oil, have denied any involvement in what happened in Venice.
Shortly after the news of the green water in the lagoon had emerged, the president of Veneto, the region in which Venice is located, took to Twitter to share the first actions enforced by officials.
Luca Zaia wrote: “This morning appeared in the Grand Canal in Venice a fluorescent green spot, reported by some residents near the Rialto bridge.
“The prefect called for an emergency meeting with police to look into the origin of the substance.”
The Grand Canal saw its waters turned green by Argentine artist Nicolás Garcia Uriburu in 1968, as part of a stunt performance to promote ecological awareness.
Over the years, activists have taken aim multiple times at landmarks in Italy to raise awareness of environmental issues.
In April, three members of Ultima Generazione turned the water of the Bernini’s Barcaccia fountain in central Rome black to ask the end of the use of fossil fuels.