Turtle rescued off UK coast unable to return home due to Brexit complications

A turtle rescued off the British Isles is not able to return home to Gran Canaria due to Brexit, rescuers say. The loggerhead turtle named 'Barnacle Bill' was taken in by the animal shelter GSPCA after Storm Ciarán hit back in November.

Bill, who has now been nursed back to health with the charity for nearly five months, was scheduled to return to her natural habitat in Gran Canaria. But this has proved to be a difficult process due to paperwork complications.

Steve Byrne, manager at the GSPCA, says the charity has not received the required paperwork from Spanish authorities to get Barnacle Bill home. This means Cape Verde, an archipelago and island country of West Africa, is now being considered as a home for the displaced turtle.

Steve said: "Bill was microchipped back in November and the paperwork submitted for her travels home to warmer waters. Although thankfully we received the Guernsey export paperwork very quickly thanks to the Guernsey States Vets we are still awaiting the Spanish Import paperwork and we may have some other challenges to face. To move endangered species like loggerhead turtles we require export and import CITES documents.”

Concerns lie in finding her 'much larger swimming quarters' if she does not get back to where she belongs soon - as Steve says "she is growing every day".

As Bill has been receiving more media attention, Steve says the charity received an offer of a flight to transport Barnacle Bill back to her home. Steve explained: “We did have an offer of a flight from a very kind member of public who owns a jet as we want to get Barnacle Bill to Gran Canaria where there is a wonderful turtle rescue who can make sure she is ready and who would release her for us.

“Currently there are concerns we might not be able to fly direct due to the UK being outside of the EU and we are awaiting clarification on what might need doing and what options we have. The last turtle pre Brexit, the process was much easier and we are aware of eight turtlers also needing to be transported to the same rescue from the UK in similar situations.

“The most important thing is we need to get Barnacle Bill back where she belongs as she is growing every day and we may need to find her much larger swimming quarters. If anyone can help with a larger heated swimming pool for Barnacle Bill please do email me steve@gspca.org.gg or call 01481 257261."

The GSPCA are about to start building a wildlife hospital for the thousands of wild animals that come through their doors and require care.