Fruitvale the wayward California sea lion, and five of his companions, will be released back into their natural ocean habitat Saturday after being rehabilitated by the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito.

Biologists and rescue volunteers from the center will take six young sea lions out to the Farallones, where they will be released back into their natural habitat. The animals were all rescued after coming ashore at various points along the coast, malnourished and underfed, according to Marine Mammal Center spokesman Jim Oswald.

Sea lions’ diets consist largely of anchovies, sardines and herring, according to Oswald.

This year these food sources have mysteriously dwindled, making it difficult for young and relatively inexperienced sea lions to find food. The amount of sea lion rescues this summer has doubled from last year, according to the Marine Mammal Center.

The Farallones, a group of islands and rocks 27 miles off the San Francisco coast, has ample food resources for the sea lions, Oswald said.

The rehabilitated sea lions were rescued between June 22 and July 5, from points including Fort Baker to as far south as Pismo State Beach near San Luis Obispo, according to the center.

One year-old male sea lion, dubbed Fruitvale, gained particular notoriety after Oakland police found him waddling down Interstate Highway 880. Fruitvale and his fellow rescued sea lions spent recent weeks being treated for malnourishment at the Marine Mammal Center, a nonprofit veterinary hospital in Sausalito.

Fruitvale was fed through a tube for a while, but biologists the sea lion and his new friends, Anquet, Hondo, Metheny, Prelude, and Superstar, are now well enough to fend for themselves in the ocean.

The six sea lions will depart by boat with rescue volunteers and biologists around 8 a.m. Saturday from Fort Mason in San Francisco.

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