A baby sea lion pup made headlines when he was found starving and disoriented in a dangerous commuter ferry crossing spot near the Alcatraz Island last month. After a valiant effort, rescuers at Sausalito's Marine Mammal Center captured the embattled pup, and gave him the only name they saw fit: Al Catraz.
At first, Al Catraz was too weak to eat on his own, instead requiring the assistance of a feeding tube. But before long, he was stronger than ever. And on Tuesday, Al Catraz and four of his friends headed back to the Pacific.
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Beneath a sunny sky, rescuers at the Marine Mammal Center drove to Point Reyes with Al Catraz, Puptart, CBreeze, Hawthorn and Blizzard – all malnurished sea lion pups rescued by the center.
Al Catraz and Puptart were released first, surrounded by volunteers to assist them to the water. After a few minutes of exploring the beach, the pair headed for the waves -- but not before (adorable alert!) stopping for a nuzzle on the beach. A nearby elephant seal watched from the sand before waddling into the waves behind them.
Shortly after, CBreeze, Hawthorn and Blizzard were up. Blizzard bolted out of his cage with Hawthorn and CBreeze following behind. The trio wrestled a bit in the sand before sprinting for the water together.
All five sea lions were safely back at sea.
"It was really cool to see all of the sea lions off to the ocean," said Marine Mammal Center Communications Manager Jim Oswald.
Check out photos of the release in our slideshow, and watch the event yourself in Marine Mammal Center's video below:
Rescuer Stan Jenson from the Marine Mammal Center
Al Catraz leaves the cage first.
Al Catraz and Puptart sneak a snuggle before heading for the water.
The next group heads out, led by Blizzard.
The group swims out to sea.