Page last updated at 12:43 GMT, Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Rescued blinded turtle Homer is flown to Newquay home

Loggerhead turtles like Homer can live to 100 years old

A turtle which was deliberately blinded off the coast of Greece is being flown to Britain to start a new life.

The 123lb (56kg) loggerhead turtle, Homer, will be cared for at the Blue Reef Aquarium at Newquay in Cornwall.

He has been cared for since 2007 at a rescue centre near Athens, but is now ready for a long-term home.

Pavlos Tsaros, from the Greek rescue centre, said turtles could destroy fishing gear and were deliberately blinded by some fishermen.

Homer, who is expected to arrive at Heathrow at 1700 GMT, will help raise awareness about the plight of his endangered species.

He will be very happy to have a big tank and hopefully he will have a happy life
Pavlos Tsaros

Mr Tsaros, who has been been caring for Homer at the Archelon rescue centre in Greece, told BBC News: "One of his eyes was missing and the other was poked out.

"Turtles can destroy fishing gear. It's a big cost, so some fishermen do it intentionally."

A vet decided that Homer was fit enough to be saved and since then he has put on more than 22lb (10kg) of weight on a diet consisting mainly of crustaceans.

Mr Tsaros said the staff had grown very fond of Homer.

'Very excited'

"It took a year and half to get him eating by himself and now he can smell the food and use his flippers to feed.

"He will be very happy to have a big tank and hopefully he will have a happy life."

Homer, who is about 40 years old, could have another 60 years ahead of him, so Blue Reef will be doing its best to make him feel at home.

He is being flown into the UK in a heated container, but will first have to go into quarantine.

Then he will released into the main Ocean tank with fish and sharks.

He knows how to find his food by putting his flipper against the walls and guiding the food to his mouth.

Matthew Slater, curator in charge of Homer's new home, said: "We have had about 10 loggerheads in the past 10 years, but they have all been found around the British coast.

"They have later been released, but Homer can't look after himself so he will stay here to educate people about turtles.

"We are very excited and looking forward to seeing him settle in."

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