An injured California sea lion rescued at Moss Landing Harbor in late January after evading rescuers for nearly a month is scheduled to be released Friday, a Marine Mammal Center spokesman said.
The sea lion, named Abagnale after the 1960s fugitive Frank Abagnale who was portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in the movie "Catch Me If You Can," has recovered enough to be released after being found with a fishing line deeply embedded in him, center spokesman Jim Oswald said.
The 300-pound adult male sea lion was first spotted at Pier 39 in San Francisco with the fishing line tangled around his neck and mouth on Jan. 1. He resurfaced in Monterey County later that week, Oswald said.
On Jan. 24, after weeks of trying to capture Abagnale, a team from the center shot darts at him that contained an anti-anxiety sedative to slow him down and facilitate the rescue. The method had never been tried by the center with a free-swimming marine mammal in the wild, Oswald said.
After being rescued, Abagnale was transported to the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito where the nylon monofilament fishing line was removed and painkillers and antibiotics were administered.
Since coming to the center, Abagnale has eaten more than 100 pounds of herring, and "is doing quite well," Oswald said.
Veterinarians did another exam on Abagnale Tuesday and determined that he is a "perfect release candidate" because his wounds are healing and he is "very, very strong," Oswald said.
Abagnale will be released off the Marin County coast at a spot just minutes from the center.
Oswald said the center often releases animals out at Point Reyes or at a site in San Mateo County, but chose a location with a shorter drive for Abagnale.
"He's feisty, and doesn't really like humans too well," he said. "For patients like this, the best thing is doing a closer release."