What Happens when Humans are Away

Earth Day

A composite image of Earth captured by instruments aboard NASA's Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite, 2012.NASA/NOAA/GSFC/Suomi NPP/VIIRS/Norman Kuring


While humans are away…

April 22 is Earth Day.  Appropriately, some amazing things have been happening while humans are hunkered down to avoid the coronavirus.  In the midst of the pandemic, wildlife is taking advantage of empty streets, the night sky is visible with the dimming of lights, the earth is quieter, the air is clearing across the globe, and waterways are clearing up as silt and sand are allowed to settle.  People who are at home all day are noticing the wildlife in their neighborhoods. 

Wildlife thriving

While the coronavirus lockdowns and social distancing have taken a toll on humans, the natural world is taking a breather.  In some places, wildlife is coming a little closer to town, as traffic is down and streets are quiet.  In Mar del Plata, Argentina, sea lions that normally hang around the port are now venturing further in to bask in the sun.  Coyotes have been seen on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.[1]  In Boulder, Colorado, a mountain lion was photographed napping in a backyard tree.  Kangaroos are hopping through Adelaide, one of the largest cities in Australia.[2]  Mountain goats have been wandering the streets of Llandudno in North Wales.

Goats Running

Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA on The Guardian website, March 31, 2020.


Air quality

Air quality affects our health and what we can see.  A Harvard study (which has not yet been peer reviewed) reports that death rates from coronavirus could be about 15% higher in areas with higher fine-particle pollution.[3], [4] One silver lining to the coronavirus lockdown is that air quality is improving in some of the hardest-hit areas in Asia and Italy.[5]  The Air Quality Index (AQI) in many large cities in India (home to 14 of the world’s 20 cities with the most hazardous air) and across the world are showing that airborne pollutants are low and the air is as clear as it’s been in decades.[6]  Some of this improvement is visible to the naked eye and is spectacular to see.  For example, there are many reports from India’s Punjab region that the Himalayas are fully visible for the first time in 30 years.[7]

Noise Changes

The changes are especially noticeable from space, where satellites capture the effect of the coronavirus lockdown on emission and night lights.[8]

Noise is down

As a result of the slowdown in transportation (car traffic, flights, trains), factory work, construction, and the general movement of people across the earth, seismologists report that the planet has calmed – with lower vibrations from “cultural noise.” [9], [10]  This may affect what we hear when we set foot outside or open a window – we can hear the sounds of nature more clearly.

Perceptions are changing

In addition to the actual changes in the natural world is the perception of change where there is actually little change. Because we are home at times that we would normally be at work, we are observing nature from dawn to dusk. Taking a walk, which has replaced going to the gym, expands the territory we’re seeing. We are more aware of the creatures that roam through the neighborhood on a daily basis.  With the lowering of ambient human sounds and in spite of the start of the lawn-mowing and blowing season, we can hear the creatures - insects, frogs, and birds in our yards.  Some of us are looking for hope in nature. Photographer Wes Snyder turned six hours of timelapse photos taken over several days of the Milky Way rising over the Outer Banks into a two-minute video that has been viewed more than 35,000 times.[11]

Sea life

In Florida, in the first two weeks of nesting season, the number of leatherback turtle nests has increased significantly over the same stretch of beach at the same stage in 2019,  according to the Loggerhead MarineLife Center in Juno Beach. There is hope that loggerhead turtles will also have a good year for nesting, as they start to nest and lay eggs before the end of May. Without human interference, the chance of survival might increase too, from one survivor in every 1,000 hatchlings. [12]  Manatees are also having a good year in Florida, with mortalities by watercraft strikes are down 9% from last year.

In a very rare sighting, fin whales have been filmed off the Calanques national park near the locked-down city of Marseilles, France. According to the head of the park, the whales usually stay farther out in deeper waters, but have been drawn in by the quiet.[13]  In Venice, Italy, the canals are so clear that people are seeing fish and the bottom of the waterways. The clarity is not only from decreased pollution, but also in large part from the lack of vaporetto traffic that stirs up the silt on the canal floors. The difference between this year and last year is clearly visible in the satellite images posted on the European Space Agency website.


© contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2019-20), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO


Importance of sustainable sourcing

One way to help maintain the health of the earth’s waters is to ensure that you are buying seafood that is ocean-friendly.  The Monterey Bay Aquarium offers a consumer guide recommendations for businesses to help them in making seafood choices that help the ocean. 

As you know, Sizzlefish.com is a purveyor of high quality fish that is portioned for individual meals.  We have supplied fish and seafood to top natural and premium grocery companies in the US for over three decades. We have many years of experience sourcing, preparing, and packaging the best seafood.  Our focus is to deliver pure, first-quality fish that our customers can trust right to their door.  Our mission is to provide food for the health and enjoyment of our customers, and to act as custodians of the earth, with natural, sustainably sourced seafood.  Thank you for trusting us to supply you with pure natural fish portions, with tools and tips for quick easy preparation, and with honest information about the benefits you are receiving from Sizzlefish products.


[1] Watts, Jonathan. Climate crisis: in coronavirus lockdown, nature bounces back – but for how long? The Guardian, April 9, 2020 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/09/climate-crisis-amid-coronavirus-lockdown-nature-bounces-back-but-for-how-long

[2] Yeung, Jessie, Julia Hollingsworth and Anna Kam. One of Australia’s biggest cities is so quiet that kangaroos are jumping through the center, CNN, April 20,2020 https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/20/world/animals-lockdown-coronavirus-intl-hnk-scli/index.html

[3] Khadka, Navin Sing. Health: Air pollution linked to raised Covid-19 death risk. BBC News, April 20, 2020. https://www.bbc.com/news/health-52351290

[4] Xiao Wu, Rachel Nethery, Francesca Dominici, et al. Exposure to air pollution and COVID-19 mortality in the United States (updated April 5, 2020) https://projects.iq.harvard.edu/covid-pm

[5] Freedman, Andrew and Lauren Tierney, The silver lining to coronavirus lockdowns:  Air quality is improving. The Washington Post, April 9, 2020. https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2020/04/09/air-quality-improving-coronavirus/

[6] Gettleman, Jeffrey, India Savors a Rare Upside to Coronavirus:  Clean Air, The New York Times, April 8, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/08/world/asia/india-pollution-coronavirus.html

[7] Singh, IP. Photos:  Seen from Jalandhar rooftops, Dhauladhar in full glory, Times of India, April 4, 2020. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ludhiana/from-jalandhar-rooftops-dhauladhar-in-full-glory/articleshow/74975862.cms?from=mdr

[8] Bartels, Meghan. New satellite views show impact of coronavirus on emissions, China’s night lights, Space.com, March 27, 2020 https://www.space.com/coronavirus-impacts-emissions-china-night-lights.html

[9] Wei-Haas, Maya. These charts show how coronavirus has ‘quieted’ the world, National Geographic, April 8, 2020 https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/04/coronavirus-is-quieting-the-world-seismic-data-shows/

[10] Watts, Jonathan. Climate crisis: in coronavirus lockdown, nature bounces back – but for how long? The Guardian, April 9, 2020 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/09/climate-crisis-amid-coronavirus-lockdown-nature-bounces-back-but-for-how-long

[11] Price, Mark, Video of Milky Way over Outer Banks called a sign of ‘hope’ amid coronavirus outbreak, The Charlotte Observer, April 2, 2020  https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article241407876.html

[12] Luscombe, Richard. Florida: endangered sea turtles thriving thanks to Covid -19 restrictions. The Guardian, April 19, 2020. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/apr/19/florida-leatherback-turtles-coronavirus-beaches

[13] The Associated Press. Whales filmed having a whale of a time during lockdown, The New York Times, April 9, 2020 https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2020/04/09/world/europe/ap-eu-virus-outbreak-roaming-whales.html

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