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Police solve the mystery of why Venice's Grand Canal turned bright green

A bright patch of green is seen in the Grand Canal , in Venice, Italy, Sunday, May 28, 2023.
A bright patch of green is seen in the Grand Canal , in Venice, Italy, Sunday, May 28, 2023. Copyright Luigi Costantini/AP Photo
Copyright Luigi Costantini/AP Photo
By Euronews Green with AP
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The liquid is less ominous than originally assumed.

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When Venice's famous Grand Canal suddenly turned bright green at the weekend, police and locals were understandably concerned.

Gondoliers could be seen punting through the phosphorescent waters while tourists took photographs of the green patch, from the Rialto Bridge up and along part of the canal.

Some pointed the finger at climate activists Last Generation. They did turn Rome's Trevi Fountain black, after all. But they told police they were not responsible.

But local authorities have now discovered that the liquid was fluorescein, a non-toxic substance used for testing wastewater networks.

Where did the bright green liquid come from?

Fluorescein is a manufactured organic dye used for scientific purposes. It is not ecologically harmful. Samples taken from the canal this week show that the water does not contain toxic chemicals.

The results "have not shown the presence of toxic elements in the samples analysed", the statement said.

Where the dye came from and how it got into the canal in the first place is still a mystery.

Luigi Costantini/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
A bright patch of green is seen in the Grand Canal along an embankment lined with restaurants, in Venice, Italy, Sunday, May 28, 2023.Luigi Costantini/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

The governor of the Veneto region, Luca Zaia, posted a photo of the green liquid that spread through the water near the arched Rialto Bridge. The patch first was reported by local residents.

Has the Grand Canal ever been green before?

As it turns out, it's not the first time the canal has been green: in 1968, Argentine artist Nicolás García Uriburu put fluorescein in the water to bring attention to the relationship between nature and civilisation during the 34th Venice Biennale. The low tide made the dye gradually disappear over the course of one day.

Watch the video above to see the bright green Grand Canal.

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