A lull in boat traffic and a coronavirus pandemic enforced ban on fishing in Istanbul have proven good news for some of the city's most popular residents – the dolphins swimming in the fish-rich waters of the Bosphorus between Europe and Asia.
The Turkish city of 16 million people has been blocked since Thursday by government measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus after it was also closed on two consecutive weekends.
The last period of detention expires on Sunday at midnight.
The pandemic has claimed more than 2,700 lives in Turkey.
Detecting dolphins in the Bosphorus – a normally very busy narrow waterway that connects the Mediterranean with the Black Sea through the middle of Istanbul – is often a source of joy for the city's residents.
But the closure has resulted in fewer ships and more fish in the water, encouraging mammals to get closer to the coast and causing more sightings.
"A decrease in boat and human traffic across the Bosphorus has had a major impact," said Erol Orkcu, head of the Amateur and Sport Fishing Association in Istanbul.
"Terrestrial and aquatic creatures can remain free without humans. This can bring dolphins closer to the coast," he told AFP.
Before the pandemic, fishing in Istanbul was a daily ritual that involved lighting hundreds of fires or bringing samovars to brew tea to prepare for long fishing trips on the shore.
The sight of thousands of amateur fishermen on the Galata Bridge and on the banks of the Bosphorus is one of the symbols of the city. But they are almost deserted now.
– "Terror" of fishing stopped –
Yoruk Isik, a dedicated ship finder who snatches ships going through the Bosphorus, said he had photographed dolphins before the pandemic, but now they were swimming much closer to the shore.
Dolphins "are nearing the water's edge as terrorist uncontrolled fishing on the coast has temporarily stopped," he told AFP.
"I call it terror because 90 percent of them don't know what they're doing and cause incredible pollution," he said.
In Sarayburnu, which separates the Golden Horn from the Sea of Marmara, a dolphin pod was spotted while swimming with an army of seagulls to the delight of the photographers.
The visibility of the dolphins is seen as an indicator of a healthy maritime ecosystem as the mammals struggle to survive.
Turkish literary giant Yasar Kemal wrote in his 1978 novel The Sea-Crossed Fisherman about the devastation of the country's coastal ecosystems by hunting dolphins for oil.
Maritime mammal hunting has been banned in Turkey since 1983 and dolphins are legally protected.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)