Many may have fallen victim to viral photos in the past few days of dolphin sightings in Venice, with people saying the Earth is finally healing as we take refuge into our homes because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
National Geographic writer Natasha Daly, writing about this misinformation says, “The phenomenon highlights how quickly eye-popping, too-good-to-be-true rumors can spread in times of crisis. People are compelled to share posts that make them emotional. When we’re feeling stressed, joyous animal footage can be an irresistible salve.”
There is, however, some truth to that “fake news” as the waters of Venice seems to have cleared up owing to the decrease in the number of boats going about its canals.[READ: Beyond majestic photos, Sierra Madre is still facing threats of deforestation]
Here, people are also posting these so-called “environmental miracles,” with the viral photo of the Sierra Madre as seen clearly from a high-rise condominium in Pasig City leading the charge. It was believed that the sighting was made possible due to the decrease of smog caused by smoke-belching vehicles, which are now a rare sight in Metro Manila roads.
Another environmental miracle is making the rounds on social media are photos of Manila Bay, whose murky waters has now supposedly turned turquoise blue, almost like the world-famous Boracay beach.
Photos and footage from workers still stationed near the bay reveal waters near the shoreline have magically been clearer. The first viral photo uploading on Mar. 25 shows a part of the bay in front of the SM Mall of Asia complex taken by a Microtel employee.
One video upload on UNTV News and Rescue’s Twitter page was supposedly taken by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Undersecretary Benny Antiporda yesterday.
WATCH | Nature heals itself.
"Mula nang naglinis tayo sa Manila Bay ganyan ang nangyari, unang-una napigilan natin iyong pagtapon ng mga tao (ng basura). Iyong pagdagdag ng polusyon, yun ang napigilan natin."
Video courtesy of Usec. Benny Antiporda of DENR pic.twitter.com/N5r6NUEJSO
— UNTV News and Rescue (@UNTVNewsRescue) March 25, 2020
Many netizens stipulate that the shore has “healed” because nearby establishments like restaurants have ceased operations since the implementation of the community quarantine almost two weeks ago.
Last year, DENR and the Laguna Lake Development Authority have ordered the closure of fast food chains in Ermita and Macapagal Boulevard for throwing their sewage directly onto Manila Bay.
Noticeably absent too from the latest photos were the ships and cargos. The coast guard has ordered a no-sail policy in Manila Bay two weeks ago in line with the implementation of community quarantine in Manila.
Manila Bay around mall of asia. I. CANNOT. BELIEVE.THIS. pic.twitter.com/lR9DCut8sL
— Dos Quong (@DosQuong) March 25, 2020
No confirmation yet
Apart from a statement and footage supposedly from DENR Usec. Antiporda, the agency has yet to confirm if the photos circulating were true. Most reposts point to a single source or tagged as “photo sent by a friend.”
There are other photos showing the far side of the bay with its deep blue hue dated this week.
— 채 상 (@anyeongChaesang) March 26, 2020
A bad sign
In 2014, around the same time around March, the same phenomenon has happened in Manila Bay where the water appeared to have cleared up. The Philippine Coast Guard then immediately went there but did not see any clear water. Fisherfolks and ship operators interviewed five years ago said the water immediately returned to its murky state once agitated.
One specific location has been pinpointed in that report: a spot in the bay directly in front of a hotel. But the conclusions then were far more gloom as along with the clear waters came floating dead fishes.
Also, the change of color in manila bay is actually caused by algae blooming which occurs when there’s an increase of water temperature. This happens annually in Manila Bay since 1988 (see second photo) This is apparently bad bc it kills many aquatic animals including turtles 🥺 pic.twitter.com/8wgJE681JD
— angel (@angel_ecube) March 26, 2020
Then Manila Bay Coordination Office Executive Director Engr. Noel Gaerlan suspected that the “bleaching” was likely caused by illegal disposal of disinfectants and other chemicals into the water.
Medyo disturbing ang kumakalat na photos na luminis bigla ang Manila Bay dahil daw ilang araw nang nakaquarantine ang mga tao. Dahil di iyan ganoon lang kabilis mangyayari given na eutrophic ang Manila Bay at ilang years pa bago ito marerehabilitate. pic.twitter.com/el884jecPJ
— Mangingisda #SaveTaliptip (@MangingisdaSays) March 26, 2020
Others have observed that this is an annual phenomenon that happens when the temperature of the water rises leading to an exponential growth of algae. Said discoloration can be fatal for marine creatures.
One Twitter user and marine advocacy account @MangingisdaSays said that it is unlikely a case of algal bloom, as the water is clear, almost like a swimming pool hinting at possible discoloration due to chlorination.
Header photo courtesy of John Angue on Facebook
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Writer: CHRISTIAN SAN JOSE