The pandemic is still taking lives and has stopped the world from turning. As a consequence, we’ve all been trapped within our domestic caves with social contact reduced to online chats, face time, phone calls, emails and SMS; while entertainment is isolated to TV, radio, social media and music. But in the wake of this enforced hibernation, something positive has started happening.

The new normal has forced industries to find better ways of doing things. Breweries have adapted their factories to produce hand sanitiser, to increase stocks for people working in health care and food industries. People have diverted their 3D printing practices to create protective face shields for doctors, nurses and ambulance officers. An entrepreneur has converted shipping containers into mini hospital units to care for patients in remote country areas. Restaurants, public bars and cafes have changed how they cater for customers. Retail stores have made the move to online shopping and schools and universities are delivering courses online for the remainder of the year in many cases.

Another effect from this retreat into isolation has been an improvement in the health of the environment. Have you noticed how the sky is appearing bluer and noise and light pollution have reduced. In London, the air pollution levels for nitrogen oxide (NO2) were recorded at their lowest since measurements started. While off the coast of Malta and the port of Sardinia, Italy, dolphins have returned. In these waters, the sediment was agitated by boat activity, causing turbidity levels to rise. But with less sea traffic due to the lockdown, conditions have improved and the waters are teaming with fish. Diving visibility off the coast near where I live is reported to be excellent, so you can imagine how much healthier marine and freshwater ecosystems are. 

At the end of the day, you must admit it’s lovely to observe how bright the stars are in the night sky and enjoy the chorus of bird and other wildlife calls during the morning and evening. I don’t know about you but its something I can get used to. A popular myth kangaroos hop down the main streets of Australia has been proved true, while over in Turkey sheep are making their own mark in the cities

Despite the stress caused by the fear of viral infection, the loss of income and enforced social distancing everyone is experiencing, people have commented on how the time in isolation has prompted them to pursue new interests or inspired a career change. Physical health is improving as a result, with more people trying to stay fit. Bicycle shops are experiencing a high demand for new and used bicycles, and there is a longer waiting time for repairs. I have had to wait approximately 3 weeks to have my bike repaired, whereas before I could get it repaired the same day. 

Animal shelters are reporting a lot of animals in their care have been adopted because people need company during this time and if anything, that is one of the best feel good stories to evolve from the Covid-19 crisis. There certainly are a lot more dogs going for a walk – on a lead of course – and I’m hoping this trend will continue because organisations like the RSPCA, Soi Dog Foundation, Animals Australia, Humane Society International and many more, do wonderful work to support the rights of animals. It is good to see their charitable work pay off.

The worlds attention has certainly been focussed on nature and the need to establish better ways of conserving and protecting parks and wildlife areas for the future. I’m hoping people who govern worldwide will adopt the inventions and new practices businesses, organisations and sole traders developed as a consequence of the pandemic and lockdown that is still happening. Humans can change their behaviour so quickly – almost overnight – and if we can change on a small scale when we have no choice except the resolve to survive, then imagine what we can achieve globally, as we cautiously emerge from this terrible crisis. 

The human brain can learn from, adapt to and apply changes while experiencing a crisis, so just out of interest, what changes have you observed in your own backyard, and in the behaviour of resident wildlife populations? 

Story by Gabrielle Ahern, Salty Wave