A body has been found in the search for missing Australian backpacker Rye Hunt, his family said today.

The Tasmania miner was last seen leaving an apartment in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, on May 21 following a row with his friend Mitchell Sheppard at Galeao International Airport.

His family has released a statement saying Brazilian detectives found a body in Marica, some 25km from Rio de Janeiro, and are now waiting to DNA testing to confirm the identity.

Yesterday Brazilian police said it was thought Mr Hunt, 25, might have drowned at sea while trying to swim back to Copacabana from Cotunduba - a deserted island one kilometre away.

Authorities called off a 72-hour sea search after a fishermen spotted a body floating off Rio's coast in clothes similar to those worn by Mr Hunt when he vanished.

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In the statement today, Mr Hunt's family said police are "currently recovering a body" which "appears to have come from the water".

They also criticised Brazilian journalists, who have allegedly sent the family photographs of a dead body recovered from the sea.

It's understood Mr Hunt's personal belongings, including his clothing and laptop, have been returned to his girlfriend Bonnie Cuthbert and uncle Michael Wholohan, who are in Rio to search for him.

Rye Hunt arrives at his Copacabana accommodation after fighting with his travelling companion on May 21. Source / AAP
Rye Hunt arrives at his Copacabana accommodation after fighting with his travelling companion on May 21. Source / AAP

The news comes after another Brazilian fisherman recalled seeing Mr Hunt, saying he appeared to be injured and "upset" on the island on May 22, just one day after he disappeared.

"The boy stared at my craft. He had several cuts the body. My girlfriend and I were scared because he was a strong man," the fisherman told O Globo.

"He went down near the water and made gestures asking for water. I asked him not to jump in the sea. I grabbed a bottle of mineral water 1.5 litres and threw. He drank it all at once.

"We talked very quickly in English, asked where he was from and how he got to the island. He said he was from Australia and had swum there. I found it strange, since Cotunduba is difficult to access."

This week, his family revealed Mr Hunt may have taken a highly potent hallucinogen before he disappeared in Brazil more than a fortnight ago.

Rye Hunt on the afternoon of May 21, as he returns to his accommodation in Copacabana. Source / AAP
Rye Hunt on the afternoon of May 21, as he returns to his accommodation in Copacabana. Source / AAP

His girlfriend and uncle now believe he may have inadvertently taken the highly potent hallucinogen NBOMe - rather than MDMA as previously thought.

"Reports from those around Rye in the lead up to his disappearance [described] irregular and out-of-character behaviours, such as extreme paranoia, anxiety and fear," the family said on Tuesday.

"Based on these effects we believe Rye may have unknowingly consumed a different illicit substance while thinking he was consuming MDMA."

"We now believe the illicit substance to be a highly potent hallucinogen and psychedelic often referred to as NBOMe."

The intoxicating psychedelic, also referred to as New Psychoactive Substances (NPS), is a synthetic drug designed to produce a similar effect to LSD, according to the Australian Drug Foundation.

The powerful drug can be taken in the form of blotting paper, clear liquid, white powder or a pill.

The dangerous synthetic drug is known to cause side effects such as paranoia, hallucination, memory lapses, difficulty in communicating, aggression and even death.

Mr Hunt, from Hobart, was seen getting into a taxi at Galeao International Airport after an argument with his travelling companion and booked into a Copacabana apartment.

It's believed the two Australian backpackers had earlier taken drugs at a party in Lapa.
Dr Monica Barratt from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at UNSW told Hack the new drug has come out of China and is linked to several recent deaths in Australia.

"NBOMe is a class of strong hallucinogenic substances that have been newly created in the last five years," she said.

Dr Barratt said it should be taken in far lower doses than party drug MDMA, with the strength being difficult to determine if it has been mixed with other powers or drugs.

Mr Hunt is understood to have been "snorting lines" before his disappearance.

Mr Hunt's family on Tuesday appealed for police and locals in Rio to continue their efforts.

"[We] determinedly continue to search for Rye," they said.

"The local Brazilian community have been receptive ... and willing to talk about our search."

WHAT IS NBOMe?

N-methoxybenzy or NBOMe are series of drugs that have hallucinogenic effects.

There are a number of versions of NBOMe available which can cause different reactions.
The hallucinogen, also known as a psychedelic' can affect all the senses and is capable of altering a person's thinking, sense of time and emotions.

While some may feel happy and relaxed after taking the synthetic drug others have reported feeling confused, paranoid, panicked, agitated and prone to aggression.