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Bearing Witness to the Murder of Dolphins

Bearing Witness to the Murder of Dolphins
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by Ben Werdegar

NOTE: The slaughter and torment of dolphins was too urgent for 14 year old Ben Werdegar to take on “when he graduates” – even from middle school.  He’s in Japan now hoping to make a difference.  Here is his second report for Care2.

Today we witnessed the slaughter of about 9 large Risso dolphins including 2-3 babies, and we helplessly watched one baby dolphin being stripped away from its family and sold into captivity.

It all started with my father and me 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.  I was playing guitar on the deserted beach when we ran into 2 ladies from Sea Shepard.  They informed us that the fishermen were doing a dolphin drive right now.  Ugh!

“Permission” to watch

We peered over the horizon to see about 7 large fishing boats heading back in.  They told us that we could legally watch the drive from the top of the mountain and we would have a perfect view of everything going on.  We walked up to the top of the mountain to see boats steaming back toward shore.

After about 10 minutes, we were greeted by 2 policemen (carrying guns which is unusual in Japan) and a fireman.  They checked our passports, noted our names in some book they were carrying, and had my dad fill out a “Safety Patrol” questionnaire on why we were there.  They stayed up there with us the whole time to make sure we didn’t do anything “illegal.”  For example, 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.

What we saw – and heard

Soon, we could hear the shouts of the fishermen as they got closer and we could see the frightened dolphins trying to swim away from the fishermen.  The dolphins stay together, swimming as a pod, which is their family unit.  The dolphin drive uses an old method to round up the dolphins and send them swimming scared in the opposite direction.  The dolphins’ main sense is sound, and unfortunately in Taiji that is their downfall.  The fishermen line up their boats facing the cove, and then they bang with hammerson long metal poles that protrude into the water.   We could hear the continuous banging; it was such a haunted sound – a death knell my dad said.  It angered me so much to watch this helplessly.

Usually a Taiji dolphin drive takes about 15 minutes through “the chute” which is the path they create to bring the dolphins to the cove, but today the dolphins put up an incredible fight.  For about 3 hours the dolphins refused to enter the cove.  They kept swimming under the nets that the fishermen had set up to swoop them in.  We hoped that the fishermen would just give up since these dolphins seemed to deserve to get away.  A woman from Sea Shepherd screamed “let them go!” which is something we all felt.

It seemed that the fishermen were getting frustrated.  For a while a helicopter was circling overhead.  With all of the police security and helicopters, we heard it is costing the city of Taiji $3 million per year extra now to support the dolphin hunt.  That made us feel good, knowing our presence was costing them money.

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Photos from Ben and Maurice Werdegar

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298 comments

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2:55AM PDT on Apr 9, 2013

I do strongly agreed with Pat.C, we cannot bring ourselves to read this......

This is very sad. These murderers should be sentenced to a slow suffocating death here in Singapore by hanging!
I do not know how these murderers can bring themselves to be so inhumanely cruel to highly intelligent dolphins!

3:34AM PDT on Apr 18, 2012

I cannot read the story myself, it would be just too much to bear. The sick people in Japan who perform the slaughtering of these majestic creatures, I just want to scream out with the rage and anger I feel to what is happening. These beautiful creatures are friendly and intelligent. GOD IS WATCHING AND THEY MUST GET WHAT IS COMING TO THEM, THEY ARE EVIL HUMAN BEINGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

3:34PM PST on Feb 24, 2012

Heartbreaking story. I hope this will stop soon...

11:43AM PST on Feb 24, 2012

Horrible. I wonder who the animals are.

11:43AM PST on Feb 24, 2012

Horrible. I wonder who the animals are.

7:59AM PST on Feb 1, 2012

No one owns these magnificent beings. One way to stop the slaughter is to abolish the captive trade of cetaceans. Do not support (by purchasing a ticket or through donation) any dolphinarium or aquatic park, the likes of SeaWorld that use captive dolphins and whales for entertainment or supposed education.

7:12AM PST on Dec 18, 2011

thanks for sharing

9:13AM PST on Dec 4, 2011

This just breaks my heart. I couldn't even read the whole story.

3:14AM PST on Dec 2, 2011

This slaughter is condemned by every country with any humanity. How on earth Japan can allow it is difficult to imagine except by soldiers who experienced their gross illtreatment of POW's during the last war. It would appear that the Japanese pschyke has a need for inhumane treatment of something so the dolphins and whales have to act a sustitute humans. UGH!!! Only disgust which somehow has to be registered into the Japanese government to stop this brutality. Incidentally eating their meat can only cause problems from the huge amount of heavy metals especially mercury it contains.

6:57AM PST on Dec 1, 2011

The amount of heartbreak this causes me is immeasurable. SHAME on the men who perpetrate this atrocity.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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Lindsay Spangler Lindsay Spangler is a Web Editor and Producer for Care2 Causes. A recent UCLA graduate, she lives in... more
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