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West Coast Whale Watching with Maya Higa

Pacific humpback. Credit: WDC NA
A California Sea lion rests on a rock
Casper the albino Risso's dolphin. Credit: WDC NA

“We need someone to go on a whale watch in Monterey.” Well, I’ve never been to California and I love watching whales! As we chatted about an incredible outreach and fundraising opportunity with WDC-UK and the Twitch streamer Maya Higa, it was a simple “yes!” for me!

We first partnered with Maya Higa in 2020 when she invited WDC on to her Conservation Cast Twitch stream to talk about our work protecting Southern Resident orcas. We had a blast talking about whales and raising money for WDC. 

Fast forward to the end of 2021 when Maya reached out again with a unique opportunity to work together again. She was starting a new program called Conservation Uncharted where she takes her conservation livestreams on the road and she wanted the first episode to be going on a whale watch with WDC! I was thrilled to accept Maya’s invitation and we started to make plans for a whale watch in Monterey, CA.

We set a date, I booked plane tickets, and the trip was here before I knew it! As a Midwesterner who was transplanted to the East Coast, I quickly fell in love with the West Coast. I loved the color of the ocean, the smell of the salt, the marine life that can be seen right from the shore, and so much more. I was getting nervous to stream but really excited to see what we would come across on the boat.

Want to watch the livestream?

The morning of the whale watch started gray and a bit chilly. Maya did an incredible job making sure she could connect to satellite towers so we could share the whale watch with thousands around the world, she prepared a great script, we all packed lots of layers, nibbled some breakfast and eventually were headed out off the harbor. 

The one thing we couldn’t plan - the waves! Unfortunately, a big swell was coming through causing the whale watch to be quite a rollercoaster. Throughout the next four hours, we saw some incredible marine life through the waves - California sea lions, Risso’s dolphins (including Casper, an albino Risso’s that I heard so much about!) humpbacks who were breaching and feeding, and Maya even noticed some harbor porpoises! I’m a newbie to streaming and was nervous to talk, but Maya helped me relax and feel comfortable as we chatted about WDC and watched marine life together. 

To make the whole trip even better, we raised over $4,000 for WDC! It was so special to talk about whales while showing viewers the marine animals we were seeing in real time. 

We are so grateful to Maya for sharing her platform with us to nerd out about whales and raise money and awareness for our conservation work. I’m hoping that next time we team up with Maya, I can show her the whales that I love on the East coast!

Sabrina, Maya and Slick

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