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:

Battling Dolphin Deaths: 8th Grader Reports from Japan

Bearing Witness to the Murder of Dolphins

Photo from Ben and Maurice Werdegar


Frank L.
Frank L.4 years ago

Iencourage all americans to watch The Cove and A Fall From Freedom. Thier both free on line. youtube.com/thecove. afallfromfreedom.org Thier's also Lolita Slave To Entertaiment. Just google Lolita orca whale and that movie is also free on line. All three movies are a huge wake up call on the dolphin/whale captive industry. DO NOT BUY A TICKET FOR ANY DOLPHIN SHOW OR SWIM WITH DOLPHINS PROGRAMS!!! Diane L.

Ann G.
Ann G4 years ago

Ben, congratulations. I am amazed by your incredible strength and bravery. At your age, I participated in a research project on my local beach and spoke at city council to encourage them to ban plastic bags. I am so jealous of the incredible opportunity you have to make a difference- never lose your spark!

Cassandra N. P.
Cassandra Pappas4 years ago

Thank you Ben for your reporting from Taiji. The fact that a young man of 14 takes time from his young life to go to the other side of the world for a cause is already so admirable. The additional fact that you had to bear witness to such a horrific situation makes me so sad. Your generation should have the right to go to these places, as you wrote, to see the beautiful nature and the dolphins free. These people are spending millions, literally, to preserve these barbaric practices which do nothing but create suffering, death and they are poisoning their population with mercury, especially since they feed this meat to their children hoping that they will grow up with a taste for this poisonous meat. This is also so shameful. I really urge everyone to sign all petitions for eliminating the hunts of dolphins, all cetaceans, species at risk, and all animals killed brutally like sharks, seals, rhinos, etc.All of this just has to stop and we have seen how valuable the petitions are when it is not possible to go out to the actual places like Ben has done. The only other things we can do is see which associations are truly active and try to help. Writing the government officials helps too, at least in the long run. Japan has been so stubborn in continuing but then again so have the Faroe Islands which are part of Denmark. I agree with Frank L., together we can make a difference. Thanks Care2 for giving people the opportunity to do that.

Frank L.
Frank L.4 years ago

It never ends Ben NEVER!! Now they just slaughter this past week 29 dolphins 4 are in capitivity 25 were slaughtered. It's comming to the point I'm getting disgusting and bumed out with this whole thing. I'm only concered for the dolphins and the suffering they endure into the EVIL HANDS OF TAIJI!! What will it take for this senseless slaughter to end?? Is it going to end I ask myself all the time. Now thier going back to Antartic for whaling this season. Sea Shepherd disrupted thier whaling last season and did a great job. They will follow them again this season. Are these japanese so defiante and ignorant or what? It seems to never end! GOD BLESS THE DOLPHINS THAT HAD DIED AND WILL CONTINUE TO DIE INTO THE EVIL HANDS OF TAIJI!!! SEA SHEPHERD WILL BE WAITING FOR YOU WHEN YOU START YOUR WHALING FISHERMAN!!!!

Frank L.
Frank L.5 years ago

To all americans out there: DO NOT BUY A TICKET FOR ANY DOLPHIN/WHALE SHOWS, MARIANE PARKS, SEA WORLD AND SWIM WITH DOLPHINS PROGRAM!! PLEASE! This is part of why dolphins are being slaughter and capture in a brutal way taken from thier families, confine to a life time of misery. The owners become rich off of these poor creatures and don't care about the animals at all. Taiji is the most brutal in the treatment of dolphins. Watch The Cove and see for yourself. God bless the dolphins that will die today in Taiji. Diane L.

Judith P.
Judith Pecho5 years ago

Maybe this has been mentioned but if not, here it is. The sea is full of mercury in that area and the dolphins that they catch they use to feed their school children, knowning full well that the meat is tainted and not fit for consumption. Why kill dolphins when they know the flesh is poisoned with mercury? The Japanese feel the dolphins eat the fish that they want to catch to eat, and so are killing the competitors plus selling meat that should not be sold for food.
Just thought I would add this bit of information I learned a while back about this particular area of Japan. Sick indifferent to life, just like they are killing whales in protected refuges for "research", which is BS and cruelty also. They will take it all until there is nothing left. How can this planet survive with so much greed and indifference?

Frank L.
Frank L.5 years ago

I encourage any one who's reading this: Please watch The Cove, A Fall From Freedom and Lolita Slave To Entertaiment. These movies will show the dark side of dolphins and whales in capitivity. Especially The Cove, that will show the reality and dark side of the treatment of dolphins/whales in Taiji Japan by the fisherman and trainers. You can watch these movies on line for free, trust me it's worth watching. It's a huge wake up call of the dolphin/whale industry. The suffering these poor creatures endure is heartbreakin, so these ASSHOLE OWNERS BECOME RICH!!! So please watch these movies and judge for yourself. Diane L.

Alina Demydchenko

Wow,it's powerful..

Alicia N.
Alicia N5 years ago

THANKS Ben GOD bless you always.............!

Susan W.
Susan W5 years ago

Ben your series on dolphins was so well thought out and well written. I can see you as a journalist helping to save the dolphins and many other animals in need of rescuing from the greedy hands of these and other heartless, cruel men.

I have such respect and admiration for the diffecult journey you went on with your dad in Japan. Your dad must be very proud of you. As a mom myself i am also proud of what you accomplished. Many adults including myself wouldn't have the guts to witness firsthand what you did.

I'm sure you will be able to inspire many young people to care about dolphins and other animals and environment we live in.

To Ben's dad : Good job in raising such a wonderful caring young man !