JUNO BEACH, Fla. — Tuesday it wasn't your typical morning swim. It's was a homecoming for 'Eau-lympia' a subadult loggerhead sea turtle after a three-month stay at Loggerhead Marlinelife Center in Juno Beach.
On May 24, 2021, she was found floating in a marina in Stuart... underweight and in poor health.
"'Eau-lympia' [was] here for chronic debilitation treatment," said Dr. Max Polyak, Director of Rehabilitation at Loggerhead Marlinelife Center.
That's a fancy way to say she's not absorbing her food.
On June 3, 2021, WPTV NewsChannel 5 caught up with the center's newest patient. Part of the treatment lowering the water in 'Eau-lympia's' tank. Much lower than the other turtle patients."
"We don't want her to expend unnecessary energy to surface to breathe because she is debilitated," said Polyak.
Twice a day, she was taken out of her tank, placed on a gurney to the “Veterinary Hospital at Loggerhead.” Turtle patients with this condition are near death.
"They're essentially starving to death. And they have depleted virtually everything out of their system, they burned up all the fat, they're burning all the protein in their muscles, they're absorbing calcium out of their bones that weakens everything," said Dr. Charles Manire, Chief of Rehabilitation at Loggerhead Marlinelife Center.
"If you take a look around the head and shoulder area the muscles are all sunken in. They're usually covered in barnacles and in algae all sorts of heavy biota, that indicates they haven't been swimming very much in the wild. And it's clear that the animal is just essentially starving to death," said Manire.
Dr. Charlie Manire, who friends and colleagues fondly call Dr. Charlie, developed a treatment to get the digestive system in like turtles like 'Eau-lympia' working again."
"Therapy she's [got] is called Total parenteral nutrition TPN," said Polyak. "TPN is simply the delivery directly into the bloodstream of the building blocks of nutrition."
.@LoggerheadMC gave "Eau-Lympia" a treatment they developed known as TPN.— T.A. Walker (@timallanwalker) August 24, 2021
"TPN is simply the delivery directly into the bloodstream of the building blocks of nutrition."@WPTV pic.twitter.com/l5c9LsdMy8
"Our goal is to put those building blocks back in the turtle so that they can start to heal and give them a chance to them survive," said Dr. Charlie.
The TPN treatments take about 40-minutes. "[It's] kind of walking a fine line, and keeping them out of the water long enough to get this into them. But not keeping them out of the water so long that that gravity affects their internal organs and everything else," Dr. Charlie said.
Dr. Charlie's treatment is now used globally.
"It's really rewarding for us to be able to say, look, you know, something that was developed here by Dr. Charlie who's like the godfather of sea turtle medicine is now shared around the world," said Polyak. "We recently trained veterinarians in the Middle East and Dubai, to administer this same therapy to an animal they had there with the exact same condition."
"[About 90%] of animals were lost, prior to the development of this therapy, and with the introduction of this therapy, over 90% are able to be saved and returned back to the wild," Polyak said.
The doctors use telemedicine to make this happen. "These veterinarians had never done this procedure before. So we were here in Juno Beach, walking them through in real-time how to do it. Wow. And it was a successful surgery. And the patient, like I said, we just released, but this animal also got that therapy TPN," Polyak said.
July 2, 2021, A month after treatment Eau-lympia started making headway.
"Olivia has made terrific progress since the last time you've been here. She's off TPN that total parenteral nutrition. She's gaining a lot of weight eating on her own. And she's ambulating moving around in the tank much, much more. She's becoming more animated, more active. All this kind of signs we want to see as evidence that she's improving our health is improving. So really, she's going according to script [with this] disease process, which is exactly what we hope for and what we what we designed the therapy to accomplish," said Polyak.
"Next steps are to increase her diet incrementally as she takes it, get more weight on Her. We continue to monitor her blood work and she gets physical and neurological exams every week and we kind of watch those trends," Polyak said.
July 17, 2021, 'Eau-lympia continued to make progress.
August 24, 2021, Three months later she goes home.
"[Tuesday] we were really excited to release Olympia. Back home to the wild," said Polyak. "She swam home into the big blue with a satellite tag applied to her carapace or topshell."
One of the best parts... seeing the smiles as she makes her way back into the ocean.
"It's a fairly universal thing that we say it doesn't matter, a cut cuts across demographics, and ages and everything, and people are just in absolute wonder. It's, it's like watching something very primordial, you know, something like from the very beginning of the earth, really, and seeing a creature returned back home. That's an ancient creature. That's healthy again, that's, you know, into the surf. So naturally, I think it just kind of brings us together as a community that much more," said Polyak.
'Eau-lympia' is being tracked by an expensive mechanism that was donated by her namesake Eau Palm Beach Resort. Eau is French for water.