Video by The Marine Mammal Center
After almost a month of rehabilitation at the Center, Fruitvale is now back in the ocean where he belongs. Saturday, he along with five other rehabbed sea lions were loaded into carriers and onto the Kitty Kat for the 27 mile choppy journey out to the Farallon Islands. The Kitty Kat is operated by SF Bay Whale Watching which kindly allowed us some space on their boat to transport Fruitvale and his buddies Anquet, Hondo, Metheny, Prelude, and Superstar. Rescue volunteer Marjorie Boor (who picked up Fruitvale from Oakland Animal Control) as well as naturalists Trish Mirabella and Nicole Lee were on board to help with the release and answer questions from the guests who were pleasantly surprised that the whale watching trip they signed up for included a special stop to drop off some unique passengers.
Fruitvale was found on a busy freeway in Oakland on June 22 and volunteers and staff had been caring for him ever since helping to get him stronger and healthier. Fruitvale, like hundreds of other sea lions we're rescuing these days, was malnourished - the food he would instinctively forage for along the coast had simply disappeared. Sadly, many of these animals will not survive due to the medical conditions resulting from malnourishment. So far this year we've rescued over 1,000 marine mammals of all species including over 720 sea lions. Our yearly average number of rescues is about 600 animals, so this year is proving to be a very busy one for us and one where we have a lot of little mouths to feed! We wish Fruitvale and the other healthy sea lions released Saturday the best.