Tico, the rescued manatee (Trichechus manatus) who traveled more than 4,000 km from Brazil, awaits repatriation while being housed in an aquarium on Venezuela’s Margarita Island.
The Brazilian NGO Aquasis, involved in the rehabilitation and rescue of Tico, told the Express that the organization is still engaged in a dialogue with the Venezuelan authorities on the return of the manatee to Brazil.
“He has not yet been repatriated and we are currently in dialogue with Venezuelan institutions about this. We are also looking for partners who can collaborate on a strategy and support to bring him back safely,” he said. said yesterday.
Tico’s voyage, which experts called “astonishing, surprising and unusual”, passed through the waters of French Guiana, Suriname and Guyana before arriving in Tobago in late August.
The seven-year-old manatee was rescued on September 5 by the Brazilian NGO Aquasis in collaboration with various organizations in the Caribbean region and Latin America.
“On September 5, the partners of the Caribbean Stranding Network were activated and collaborated directly in the monitoring of the manatee in the Venezuelan Caribbean region.
Upon arrival in Tobago, he traveled to neighboring Venezuela, where he was eventually rescued on Monday,” Aquasis wrote in an update last week.
Local experts such as Professor Judith Gobin (University of the West Indies), Dr. Reia Guppy (University of Trinidad and Tobago, Marine Mammal Stranding Network and Keith Lewis (Director, COAST Foundation) participated in the rescue operation.
Dr. Guppy later called Tico’s travels “Incredible, breathtaking and a novelty”.
Aquasis added that the rescue was an exercise in cooperation and friendship with Caribbean conservationists.
“Despite all the apprehension caused by this relocation of Tico, it also allowed Aquasis to meet other institutions working with conservation in the Caribbean, strengthening the bonds of technical cooperation and friendship,” he said. said last week.
Tico was first rescued by Aquasis in 2014 as a newborn from Praia das Agulhas, a nature reserve in Brazil.
He remained under human protection for seven years, six of which were spent at the Aquasis Marine Mammal Rehabilitation Center, Caucaia/CE, spending the remaining year in captivity at sea to adapt to the natural environment.
On July 6, he was released and Tico left the Brazilian coast to enter deep waters.
As caregivers tracked the free manatee with a transmitter attached to its tail, it was decided that it needed to be recaptured, as manatees typically feed on plants that grow in shallow water.
“At the end of July, the animal reached international waters off French Guiana, which further limited rescue efforts. As the days went by, it was thought that the animal could have died, due to the conditions of inhospitable open seas for a manatee,” Aquasis wrote in an update on its website in August.
On August 24, Tico was confirmed to be alive and off Tobago and the salvage operation went into action.
Aquasis warned that the animal had probably been malnourished and disoriented.
“Having gone many days without food, without drinking fresh water and in intense muscle wasting, the animal needs veterinary care to assess its state of health. The erratic and atypical movement, probably the longest ever made by a manatee, of more than 3000 km, shows that the animal is disoriented and must go through a new process of adaptation before returning to nature,” he said. in August.
He also insisted that Tico should be sent back to Brazil to avoid the move.
“In addition to the factors related to Tico’s well-being and survival, his return to Brazil is strongly indicated, since the populations closest to where he is, in Trinidad and Tobago, in other Caribbean countries, in Venezuela, Colombia and the United States, they have different genetic characteristics and may belong to a different species than that found in northeastern Brazil. these animals from different populations or even species could have medium-term deleterious effects for local manatees,” he said.