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When the boat arrived at Fisherman Bay, captain and crew took a long look at the water for sharks. When none materialized, the strongest passengers lifted and unlatched the kennels on the sides and back of the boat. Suspended above the swirling, icy waters, most of the sea lions clung desperately to their kennels, forcing their releasers to tilt and shake the enclosures. One by one, the animals slipped out; a group of four huddled close to the boat. The humans cheered and shouted goodbyes.
Wayne Fenton had taken Breadstick to the starboard, where there was an opening in the side of the boat. He didn't want to dump his sea lion overboard; he wanted her to be able to jump into the ocean on her own.
When he unlatched the kennel, Breadstick immediately stuck her nose out and dove into the sea. She swam in several circles, looking back at Fenton with her one eye. When another sea lion, Fall In, joined Breadstick, they shared a nose kiss, then swam off together toward the Farallones.
"Breadstick was just spinning and spinning and spinning!" Fenton said with a loud laugh. "That felt really good."
On the way back, he looked over his pictures of the sea lion, and reflected on his time with her. "If Breadstick could actually talk, I could see her saying thank you for taking the time to actually do this," he said. "I just hope Breadstick has an inkling that someone actually cared."
When the Kitty Kat arrived back at the Hyde Street Harbor, the infestation was there to greet the boat. Looking over the dock, several passengers let out gasps and began pointing to where a moaning sea lion lay with an enormous gash on its side. One disturbed onlooker reached for a cellphone.