Istanbul's dolphins are venturing close to the shores amid Turkey's coronavirus lockdown. In a Twitter clip that went viral on April 23, the dolphins were spotted right along the Bosporus shore, which is usually packed with tourists, boats and ferries.
Like many others, Twitter user @ragipsoylu shared the clip and wrote: “Amazing, Istanbul’s dolphins now hang out very close to the shore, where iconic Ortakoy mosque and Bosporus bridge are located.”
The video shows the dolphins swimming by the water's edge near Istanbul's iconic Ortaköy Mosque.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the tourist hotspot has quietened considerably with a sudden and sharp decrease in boat and human traffic across the Bosphorus.
Also known as the Strait of Istanbul, the Bosporus strait is a narrow, natural strait and an internationally significant waterway located in northwestern Turkey. It connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara, and, by extension via the Dardanelles, the Aegean and Mediterranean seas.
Most of the shores of the strait are heavily settled, straddled by Istanbul's metropolitan population of 17 million inhabitants extending inland from both coasts.
According to news website dailysabah.com: “Maritime traffic in Bosporus has plunged in recent weeks due to ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, with millions of Istanbul residents staying at home – either voluntarily or under government orders.”
The country has reported nearly 105,000 positive cases of COVID-19. Of these 21,737 have recovered, and 2,600 deaths have been reported as of Saturday. On Thursday, a four-day enforced lockdown started in Istanbul and 30 other Turkish provinces in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus. A similar lockdown was enforced last weekend too.
Earlier this week, dolphins were also spotted by the Galata Bridge, just off the shores of Istanbul’s historic peninsula. Apparently, the place usually sees dozens of fishermen and their boats at this time of the year.
Seeing dolphins in Istanbul's Bosphorus while crossing ferrying by, has become quite common over the last few years. But dolphins are rarely sighted so close to Istanbul's shores, reported news website alaraby.com.
According to Dr Ayaka Amaha Öztürk, a dolphin expert with the Turkish Marine Research Foundation (TUDAV), marine traffic is probably the biggest problem for the dolphins in this area. In a report on the website culturetrip.com, Dr Öztürk said: “It is not just the presence of boats but also the noise they are creating.”
Dolphins tend to shy away from noise, particularly that of speedboats, and increasing marine pollution can also have an impact. However, these creatures keep returning to the Bosporus and surrounding waterways, which have undergone a significant clean-up in recent years, the report stated.
On April 23, news agency Anadolu Agency also shared photos of dolphins swimming in the Bosphorus as they migrate with the arrival of spring season in Istanbul. In Turkey, three different species of dolphin exists in Istanbul Strait; bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) and harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena). The Common dolphins of Mediterranean are listed as endangered in the IUCN since 2003
Dolphins are protected by law in the country. Marine mammal hunting has been prohibited in Turkey since 1983.