U.S. Teen on Taiji Fishermen: 'How Can a Human Be so Unfair?'

14-year-old Ben Werdegar waxes philosophically on his visit to Japan's notorious killing Cove.

Earlier this month, Ric O’Barry’s Save Japan Dolphins welcomed a new champion of cetacean rights to its ranks—14-year-old Ben Werdegar.

The American teenager and his father Maurice recently travelled to Taiji, Japan, the worldwide epicenter of dolphin hatred.

How can a human give no compassion at all to a baby that just witnessed its mother being stabbed to death in front of them? How? Why? 

The younger Werdegar experienced some of same emotional ups and downs that the organization’s Cove Monitors regularly endure: exasperation at the senseless killings; the odd mental juxtaposition of appreciation for Taiji’s stunning natural beauty while knowing that its secret inlet has been the stage for so many brutal murders; and, ultimately, a sense of hope that one day the dolphins’ deaths will be no more.

Werdegar documented his visit in a series of thoughtful blog posts over at Save Japan Dolphins. Here are five highlights.

1) On his first day in the Cove, Werdgar and his father witnessed the slaughter of nine Risso’s dolphins, including a handful of babies.

While Taiji’s fishermen brought spears of death to work that day, the teenager brought something a bit more pacifistic—his guitar:

It all started with my father and I heading down to the beach at about 8:00 a.m.  I brought my guitar because I wanted to bring at least one drop of beauty to this terrible place by playing music here… the policeman warned me that if I stepped on the other side of the fence barrier he would arrest me. So, I took out my guitar and started playing for them, with the terrible dolphin drive occurring right behind me.  I sat on the fence they had warned me about.  Maybe music could bring some rare good luck.

2) On the alleged humane spears—if ever an oxymoron existed, that’s it—used by Taiji’s fishermen to kill the dolphins:

The way the dolphins in Taiji are killed now is a little unclear. They are stabbed with long spears still, but now the fishermen are supposed to be using special spears to stab into the dolphins’ spine and kill them instantly. Of course, that won’t work every time. There’s no way they do that to every dolphin. I don’t believe it; I think they’re doing what they’ve always done, just stab the dolphin until it can’t bear life any longer and dies. Now they have corks that they shove into the wounds of the dolphins so that nobody can see any blood running into the Cove water. I can’t believe the cover up they’ll go through just to massacre dolphins day after day.

3) On a lack of compassion exhibited by Taiji fishermen:

They just don’t seem to learn do they?  How can a human be so unfair?  How can a human give no compassion at all to a baby that just witnessed its mother being stabbed to death in front of them?  How?  Why? 

4) On the crass proximity of Taiji’s much-maligned whale museum to the infamous Cove:

One thing I just hate about Taiji is how the whale museum, an amusement park that features dolphin shows, and even sells dolphin and whale meat, is literally just steps away from where thousands of dolphins are slaughtered!  How can they do that?  It’s incredible that people come to the museum and have a fun time and just turn a blind eye to what’s happening right around the corner.  Do they know, and they just do nothing about it?  Or are they completely ignorant about the entire thing?  I’m not sure which one of these it is, but it’s just disgusting.

5) On his final moments in the Cove:

I took one final glance at the deep blue water and the high cliffs.  Then I took one last look at the net. I wanted to cut the net down.  I never want to see that net there again, for even when the Cove is peaceful, that net reminds me what happens there, and that net never comes down, that net is always up.  Someday I will return to the Cove, I’ll return and no nets will be there, no policemen, no fishermen, the only thing that will be there are dolphins.


This is horrible...we should have followed mcarthur's plan and nuked the rest of Japan. Anyone who kills a dolphin is a sick person. Period. Oh well...its because of their bad seeds, that bad things happen to them. They had a big quake, and trust me, they will have more bigger quakes. just don't help them...pass it along to all your friends now. In memory for the dolphin....
So explain to me how we can compare the rape of Nanking which happened during war time to say, killing pests? Dolphins to the Japanese are pests, they are eating the fish stock, for a filthy fat American with a diet steeped in BEEF where you slaughter cows at god knows what rate per day I wouldn't expect you to understand. At least this is sustainable, the dolphins are overpopulating they are eating up one of the primary sources of food for a population that is shrinking and so the fishermen are taking a stand. How about we try not to speak out of our hearts and look at the core of both the whale and dolphin problem. It's simple, Norway, Iceland and Japan whale, why? Because the core of their diet is fish, the whales (dolphins) eat fish, lots of it so why not have a cull for a species that is starting to overpopulate? One might suggest we have a cull in America for people that try to judge an entire culture without even attempting to understand it. Further - if you want to talk Rape of Nanking? How about we chat about the atrocities that went on in Vietnam? How about some napalm on your dolphin meat? Perhaps you should visit Hiroshima or Nagasaki and see the devastation that America released upon hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children? Did you ever hear Japan complain once about it? Grow up, and look at the basis of the issues - killing dolphins is not at all comparable to war time atrocities that ALL warring nations are guilty of. Cheers the noo.
I'm very sad to hear that, that is brutal.The Japanese government should outlaw the killing of these dolphins. Just for their meat, how sick! Let the dolphins live you savages!
Dan Lounsbury - Look up The Twilight Zone episode "To Serve Man".
"How can a human be so unfair" - because it's a "human", an indigenous Earth Species. And you wonder why we're "all alone in The Universe". Would Y O U enter a Kennel full of Foaming-At-The-Mouth Rabid-Mad Dog-Fight-Trained Starving Pit Bulls and say - "I come in Peace"??
"How can a Human be so Unfair?" the lad asks. It is a thing called hunger. Fast for a few days until you are too tired to play a guitar. Then go home and look at the hungry faces of your wife and children who are depending on your for food. This is how it happens. The sea has been a source of sustainable harvesting for centuries. These natives did not grow up watching flipper and dolphin cartoons. Certainly dolphins are an amazing animal, but at the end of the day, apparently, they can feed a hungry mouth as well as a tuna or a salmon. Given that they have no natural predator other than man, perhaps there is a place for this too without spoiled judgmental Americans telling them how to live. I feel truly sorry for this boy who whose sense of moral superiority and entitlement will only be further ingrained by our university system where he will be a rockstar. He is certainly doomed to follow in the path of his Father. My advice? Go truly help a human and render service to the poor, the lonely, the fatherless, those in prison, the sick and the shut in.
It is only WESTERN CIVILIZATION that has learned that animals are worth protecting...the rest of the world is just NOT civilized. The Asians are horrible. Savages...but so are those in the mideast and Africa. I am SO glad I live in the United States. We have our problems, but we are still ahead of the rest when it comes to evolution.
Japan should on this basis be condemned as an " Uncivilized nation" and placed under a global trade embargo ...The Danish Faroe Islands should also be condemned and isolated. The killing of Cetaceans should be regarded as a grave crime .
Despite their so-called "reverence" for marine creatures and all their little nonsensical memorials, the Japanese are at heart merciless killers of nature. They annually slaughter hundreds of whales and countless other sea creatures beyond all restraint. And their deep, basic cruelty is obvious toward humanity too -- just read The Rape of Nanking on what Japanese soldiers did in China in 1937. That will wake you up! And appall you...
Dude, pick your battles. I admire your dedication and willingness to go to such great lengths for your cause, and I do not mean to offend when I wonder after all of your dedication, why you did not hop the fence and get arrested? You would have gotten a lot of publicity for your cause. Just wondering...