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.