Save the Whales Honors Legacy of Co-Founder and President Maris Sidenstecker I and Looks Toward the Future

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SALINAS, Calif., June 15, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Save the Whales, a California-based nonprofit dedicated to the preservation of the ocean and its inhabitants, is commemorating the life and legacy of co-founder and president Maris Sidenstecker I. She passed away peacefully at home following a long battle with cancer. She was 87.

Save the Whales exists to preserve and protect the ocean and its inhabitants.

Sidenstecker I and her daughter, Maris Sidenstecker II, co-founded Save the Whales in 1977. They began selling T-shirts at community fairs in Los Angeles to spread awareness about commercial whaling and threats to whale populations. Over the years they expanded their operations, launching a hands-on traveling educational program for schools, informing the public on whale and conservation concerns, and organizing beach cleanups and other community activities. 

A driving force in the field of marine conservation, Sidenstecker I dedicated her career to spearheading numerous impactful initiatives, including: 

  • Preventing the detonation of 269 underwater “Ship Shock” explosives off the coast of California, which posed a dire threat to endangered whales and the potential of 10,000+ marine animal casualties. 
  • Stopping the expansion of salt mining into Baja California’s San Ignacio Lagoon, which holds the distinction of being the sole remaining untouched sanctuary where gray whales give birth. 
  • Establishing Whales on Wheels (WOW™), an innovative program taught by marine biologists that has reached more than 340,000 students to date. 

Reflecting on her mother, Sidenstecker II shared, “She was a single working mom, and we spent our free time educating others about whales. We are a small organization, and proof that a few people can make a difference. My mother would be proud of that legacy.” 

Guided by her mother’s vision and her own passion for marine life, Sidenstecker II remains dedicated to advancing Save the Whales’ conservation efforts in her role as executive director. The organization is steadfast in its mission to educate future generations and to address emerging concerns surrounding offshore wind development. 

To learn more about Sidenstecker I’s legacy, click here. 

About Save the Whales:  

Save the Whales exists to preserve and protect the ocean and its inhabitants. Through education efforts aimed at empowering children and members of the public, Save the Whales aims to protect marine mammals and the fragile ocean environment, working with local, state and federal agencies to inspire change. For more information, visit 


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SOURCE Save the Whales

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