Authorities try to determine why Venice canal turned green

Italian authorities are looking into the causes of the abnormal water pigmentation around the landmark Rialto Bridge.

In this image released by the Italian firefighters, a firefighter on a boat looks at the arched Rialto Bridge along Venice's historical Grand Canal as a patch of phosphorescent green liquid spreads in it
Police in Venice are investigating the source of a phosphorescent green liquid patch [Vigili Del Fuoco/AP]

The waters in Venice’s main canal have turned fluorescent green in the area near Italy’s renowned Rialto Bridge, as authorities seek to determine the cause.

Italy’s fire department posted a video on Sunday as one of its boats sailed on phosphorescent waters. “The Grand Canal coloured in green is what the fire department found this morning as we intervened together with ARPAV to collect samples and analyse this abnormal colour,” it said.

ARPAV, Veneto’s regional environmental protection agency, said it received samples of the altered waters and was working to identify the substance that changed their colour.

The Venice prefect has called an emergency meeting of police forces to understand what happened and study possible countermeasures, the ANSA news agency reported.

The incident echoes recent episodes in Italy where environmental groups have been colouring monuments. However, unlike previous cases, no activist group has come forward to claim responsibility for what happened in Venice.

Last week, environmental activists climbed Rome’s Trevi Fountain and poured black liquid obtained from diluted vegetable charcoal into its water.

The group of around 10 people also stood inside the fountain holding a banner reading “We Won’t Pay for Fossil Fuels”, a reference to the campaign to stop public investment and subsidies of fossil fuels.

A gondola navigates along Venice's historical Grand Canal
A gondola navigates along Venice’s historic Grand Canal as a patch of phosphorescent green liquid spreads [Luigi Costantini/AP]

In March, activists sprayed orange paint over the walls of Palazzo Vecchio, the home of Florence’s town hall, aiming to highlight the need to combat the climate crisis.

Venice’s waters had turned green once before in 1968, during Venice’s international art exhibition La Biennale, when Argentinian artist Nicolas Garcia Uriburu spilled non-toxic bright green fluorescent sodium in the Grand Canal.

The pigment turned bright green when synthesised by microorganisms in the water as part of an artistic initiative aimed to call attention to worsening water pollution.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies