12 Places Nature Is Thriving as Humans Retreat During the Lockdown

venetian canal


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venetian canal

Where the Wild Things Are

During the initial weeks of the coronavirus pandemic with citizens sheltering in place and travel coming to a near standstill, something unexpected happened. Nature and wildlife emerged in ways and in places that it hadn't in years, perhaps decades. From wildlife reclaiming Yosemite National Park to the Venetian canals running clear once again, the examples have been inspiring. There's no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has had a brutal and devastating impact on the world, but it has also served as an important reminder of the profound impact human activity has on Mother Nature. Here are some of the most notable examples of how nature has made headlines while humans have retreated.

Related: 18 National Park Webcams Where You Can See the Wilderness From Home

coyote in city

Coyotes Stroll Through San Francisco

All but wiped out by human hunting and poisoning, wild coyotes re-emerged on the streets of San Francisco. As SF Gate reported in late March, wild coyotes began making the most of the city's sudden calm, wandering its streets and sidewalks. Twitter users have even posted photos of their urban coyote sightings. The animals have been spotted everywhere from the Twin Peaks neighborhood to Glen Canyon Park.

peacock in city

Peacocks Take to the Streets of Mumbai

Amid their homebound isolation, many residents of Mumbai delighted in looking out their windows to see peacocks dancing in the streets. The birds have been spotted on the streets of many other cities throughout the country as well, according to a report in India Today. A local Mumbai photographer, Manav Manglani, posted images and videos of the bold peacocks on his Instagram account.

black bear in street

Wildlife Reclaims Yosemite National Park

The closure of national parks across the United States created a human void that has been a boon for the resident wildlife populations and park webcams. At California's Yosemite National Park, bears were spotted boldly walking down the streets of the park, according to park rangers who discussed the development during a Facebook Live event. Bear sightings were observed at a time of year that's usually very difficult for the animals of the park because of non-stop traffic. Bobcats and coyotes have also been spotted out and about on the park's roads and walkways.

royal terns

Shore Birds Spread Their Wings in San Diego

With fewer humans out walking their dogs along the beaches in some San Diego communities, endangered shore birds have ventured into places they are rarely spotted. Local research fishery biologist and expert birder Sue Smith told The San Diego Union-Tribune that she saw royal terns happily ensconced on Del Mar's Dog Beach for the first time ever. And that's not all, Smith also reported seeing ring-billed gulls; willets and whimbrels.

venice canals clear

Clearer Water in the Canals of Venice, Italy

Though there were initial reports of dolphins being spotted in the canals of the famed Italian city of Venice, those stories have since been debunked. However, there is truth behind the fact that the canals grew much cleaner amid the coronavirus lockdown and resulting lack of traffic. Fish have also been spotted in some of the canals.

crab in canal

Crabs in the Canals of Venice Beach, California

Venice, Italy isn't the only place where residents have been noticing a change courtesy of the pandemic. The residents of Venice Beach, California have also reported some new developments on their more peaceful canals. Twitter user Jane Wurwand shared pictures in late March to express her surprise over spotting everything from crabs to herons and egrets in the canals. "No traffic, flights, people or pollution. Is our planet slowly healing? The canals of Venice, California have herons, egrets & cormorant birds & look in the clear water - crabs on the mud below. We see brighter stars, hear more birds & have time for our neighbors. It's something," she noted.

wild turkeys
Larry Crain/istockphoto

Wild Turkeys Trotting Through Downtown Boston

The pictures of wild turkeys roaming the streets of Boston abound lately. From Facebook posts to tweets from Massachusetts State Police, the population of Beantown has been busy documenting the many turkeys wandering into the city exploring its mostly quiet streets.

Great Orme Kashmiri Goat

Mountain Goats Grazing in Welsh town

In one of the more amusing reports to emerge amid the worldwide lockdown, wild goats took over a Welsh town. CNN reported goats were spotted wandering the empty streets of a coastal town in north Wales. Residents in Llandudno snapped pictures and captured videos of more than 12 animals that had apparently wandered into the community from the Great Orme headlands and began grazing on grass, flower beds, and more within the town.


Wild Boar in the Center of Barcelona

Yet another unusual sighting that made headlines, wild boar were seen in the center of the typically busy city of Barcelona. The animals are believed to have descended from mountains near the city. Twitter user Alfons Lopez Tena captured a video of a boar boldly foraging on the median of a deserted city street.

bee with wildflower

Bees and Rare Wildflowers Poised for a Rebound in the UK

Though this particular development is still emerging, there have been predictions that in the United Kingdom there may be a bumper crop of rare wildflowers this spring, which would be a boon for the declining bee population. A report in The Guardian notes that Europe's largest conservation charity believes that rare wildflowers might recover during the coronavirus lockdown because local governments are leaving roadside areas of wild growth uncut this season. This would be a benefit not only for bees but also butterflies, birds, and bats.

coral reefs st lucia

Coral Reefs in St. Lucia Filled With Life

It's no secret that coral reefs around the world have suffered a devastating impact from human activity and resulting global warming. But at St. Lucia resorts Jade Mountain and Anse Chastanet,  which overlook the stunning Soufriere Bay, expert dive instructor Castillus Jackson has noticed a change, including fish returning to the reef. "For the last month, our oceans have seen no boats, no humans, and no pollution from man made products like non-reef-safe sunscreens," says Jackson. "Everything looks calm and pristine. Schools of silver-side fish are present. We can see pelicans and boobies feeding on them when we visit the resort to check on the boats." 

clean air

Air Quality Improves Around the World

The stories about air quality improvement around the globe are legion. In San Diego, researchers from the University of San Diego reported in late April that air was as much as 30% cleaner. What's more, a University of Toronto researcher found that in cities where a state of emergency was declared in February due to outbreaks of COVID-19 there was a decrease in air pollution by as much as 40 percent. The research, based on Air Quality Index data, specifically targeted the cities of Wuhan, China; Hong Kong; Milan, Italy; Seoul, South Korea, and Shanghai, China.