Leaving Taiji and Its Dolphins: a Last Day at the Cove
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 third and final Taiji report for Care2.
Today was our last day at the Cove. We arrived at about 10:00am. One of the policemen from yesterday approached me this morning as we got off the boat. He was not in uniform today. He approached me with a smile and offered me a soda, and seemed to be thanking me for playing guitar yesterday. He seemed like he was trying to be friendly to me, but it was a strange thing to have happen.
We walked from the dock toward town and the first thing we encountered was the “whale museum.” 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!
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.
The town of Taiji is flooded with sculptures and paintings and posters of whales and dolphins. If everybody there loves the dolphins so much then why do they slaughter thousands of them? It doesn’t make any sense. It’s almost as if they’re sending a false message to the world, its as if they’re trying to bury the slaughter and show the world they love dolphins. The fake messages of them loving and caring for dolphins that they portray in Taiji is hard to take.
But there was one good thing about today. Today no slaughter took place in the Cove. Maybe they took a day off after having 3 successful slaughter days previously, or maybe it was because it was a national holiday. Either way we were happy to see no fishermen in the Cove.
We spent our last day on the Cove’s rocky beach, our thoughts busy about how we could end the slaughter. What is the key to demolishing the dolphin meat industry? There must be something we all can do that will end the killing. We just have to find out what it is.
As I looked over the horizon of the Cove’s calm, blue waters, I realized how beautiful and peaceful the scenery is here. When I sat on the beach it was hard to relax, yet it was also hard to feel anger. I couldn’t relax because my memory of yesterday’s slaughter — that took place right here — was so vivid, but I couldn’t be angry because the Cove was so mellow and calm, and sunlight was pouring down on us. I found myself stuck somewhere in the middle and it was a weird feeling.
Soon enough we had to say our good-byes to 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. Even when the Cove is peaceful, that net reminds me of what happens there, and that the 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.
If you have found this series meaningful, enjoyed meeting Ben or have some suggestions for what he should do next about Taiji- please leave a comment for him.
More of this series:
Photo from Ben and Maurice Werdegar