Tico the manatee rescued after epic 2,500 mile journey

A manatee in Brazil. Beautiful Flower /iStock/Getty Images Plus

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Almost two months after a manatee named Tico was released from a rehabilitation center and made his way through deep ocean waters, an international team of volunteers were elated when he was found after traveling nearly 2,500 miles, reports The Australian.

After being released into the wild by the Brazilian NGO Aquasis off Icapui in the northeast Brazil on July 6, Tico’s carers were worried until Tico was finally rescued off the island of La Blanquilla in Venezuela, BBC News reported.

In October 2014, Aquasis initially rescued Tico as a stranded newborn in Praia das Agulhas in northeast Brazil.

Manatees live, feed and reproduce in waters about three to seven feet deep, according to Save the Manatee Club. When they travel offshore it is in water about 10 to 16 feet deep, but rarely do they find themselves in water deeper than 20 feet.

“We thought it was dead, or it was just the gear that appeared,” said Camila Carvalho, a member of the Aquasis team that published Tico, as reported by BBC News. Carvalho is also one of those who received the transmission of Tico’s location.

Since manatees tend to spend most of their time sleeping and feeding in shallow water, when Tico started swimming deep in the ocean, his caregivers made the decision to try to chase him. .

Rescuers rushed to find Tico in boats, planes and cars before veterinarians from the Venezuelan Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources followed him via a GPS transmitter.

The transmitter had been attached to Tico’s tail, and late last month Tico rose high enough to let the Aquasis team know he was off Tobago, the smallest of the two islands that make up the nation of Trinidad and Tobago.

Tico’s journey had taken him through international waters and through those of French Guiana and Suriname before ending up in Tobago.

After Carvalho and his team began reaching out to Trinidad and Tobago residents in their search for Tico, a fisherman found the lost manatee.

But there was yet another harrowing chapter in the rescue mission after Tico was found near the edge of the wall at Scarborough Harbor in Tobago.

Dr Reia Guppy, an assistant professor in the Department of Marine Science at the University of Trinidad and Tobago, said Tico was swimming where the ferry was about to dock in about an hour, as reported by BBC News.

Guppy managed to pull Tico out of harm’s way after taking over a fishing boat, but Tico fled from his rescuers.

After escaping the rescue team, Tico’s journey ended in Venezuela on Monday, where he was brought to a private marine sanctuary on Margarita Island to recuperate.

Arrangements are being made in cooperation with the Venezuelan authorities to return Tico to Brazil.

Manatees are listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and as endangered in Brazil.

The rescue mission shines a light on the dangers these gentle herbivores face in Brazil, where mangrove manatees take refuge to give birth and raise their young are destroyed by the developers. As one of their sources of food and sanctuary disappears, the manatees head out to sea to give birth to their young.

“When they do that the calf is vulnerable because of the waves,” Carvalho told BBC News. “We rescue a lot of newborns, and sometimes we can’t see the mom, to try to get the manatees back to their mother.”

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