After a long day of work, I received a phone call from Santa Isabel. A baby manatee was stranded on the shore of the bay of Jauca, not so far from the Reserve.
I left immediately and notified personnel from the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER), which has experts to deal with this type of situation. Once I arrived, I called the biologist Dr. Nilda Jimenez who helped me identify the manatee’s sex, take her on my lap, and calm her down. The manatee had a very fast heartbeat and I monitored her breathing and heart rate until DNER personnel arrived. They transported her to the Puerto Rico Manatee Rehabilitation Center, where Dr. Tony Mignucci gave her a diagnosis. This experience reminded me that my purpose in life is to help protect natural resources.
The baby manatee was in a delicate health situation and will need two years of milk and expert help to heal. Dr. Mgnucci has informed us that the costs of caring for a baby Manatee is close to $100,000 annually. Dr. Antonio Mignucci, with the volunteers at the center, chose to name her Nanichi, which means “my heart, my love” in the Taino language. Nanichi was rescued on World Planet Earth Day, and her name should remind us that we have a great responsibility to care for, protect, and conserve natural resources and wildlife.
To help Nanichi and the Manatee Conservation Center of Puerto Rico, you can make your financial contribution through AHT Movil Pay a Business at “Centrodemanaties” or PayPal at http://manatipr.org/donativos/ or contributing directly to the Puerto Rico Manatee Rehabilitation Center.
Aitza posing with the baby manatee, Jobos Bay Staff, and Keysali Rodriguez, the woman who first spotted the manatee.
If you spot a stranded manatee, keep your distance and call for professional help.