Background to Dolphin Song.
During a period of my life when my fortunes were low, I went to stay with my sister and her husband in Pembrokeshire, painting their house to earn money to pay some bills. My brother-in-law ran a diving school and had a fast boat with an outboard motor. One afternoon my sister asked me, ‘Would you like to come and swim with our dolphin?’
It seemed that a wild dolphin had decided to live in a nearby bay and loved to swim and play in the water with humans and was known locally as ‘Simo’. I was kitted out with a wetsuit and we motored out in the boat from the village of Solva to find him. We had gone less than a mile before Simo was sporting in our wake and when we anchored he swam around, obviously inviting us to join him. Bottle-nosed dolphins are big – Simo was about fourteen feet long and more than twice the girth of a human. In my experience up to that time, one always had to move carefully in the presence of large creatures in case you startled them and they kicked out or otherwise hurt you.
It was not like that with Simo. There seemed to be an invisible signal coming from him which was saying, ‘Don’t be afraid of me. Come in and play – I won’t hurt you.’ There was also a feeling that I can only describe as ‘dolphin-love’ radiating from him. I dropped over the side and he swam all around, diving down and leaping over my sister and me for about half an hour until I was tiring and swam to a nearby rock where I sat, half-submerged, to rest. Simo came and laid his head in my lap whilst my brain crackled with his attempts to communicate with me. Without a common language, all I could do was try and reciprocate the waves of love flowing around me. It was a day that has influenced my thoughts and beliefs ever since. I would wholeheartedly agree with the statement, ‘Swimming with a dolphin is a life-altering experience’.
When I came to write the Squirrel books, I introduced dolphin characters who could communicate telepathically with the squirrels. These dolphin characters were very popular with my readers and I decided to write a ‘Dolphin’ story.
To widen my experiences I travelled to Dingle in Ireland and swam with the renowned Fungie, and to the Azores to study whales and dolphins as well as to British Columbia where I went kayaking with Killer Whales (Orcas) and twice to the Faroe Islands where Pilot Whales (a species of large dolphins) are killed in their hundreds every year.
Strongly influenced by Simo’s apparent attempts to communicate with me at Solva the theme of Dolphin Song developed around the idea of direct communication between dolphins and humans.
Summary of Dolphin Song.
When Mary O’Connor is befriended by a family of dolphins whilst swimming off the coast of Wales, she discovers how their presence calms her examination stress. Three years later, when she visits Ireland to swim with Fungie, the dolphin of Dingle Bay, she is seeking help in resolving a far greater crisis in her life. What she learns there compels her to return to England to find ‘three of the race of whales and take their song to the world of people’.
Meanwhile, at a pool in a Dorset resort town, others are hatching an audacious plan to release two captive dolphins and a pilot whale to the freedom of the seas – a plan that goes dangerously wrong and jeopardises her mission.
Michael Tod’s thrilling novel tells the story of the dissolving of the communications barrier between humans and dolphins through music. The recording of their heart-rending but beautiful Songs of Truth leads to unforeseen and dramatic consequences both for the humans involved and for the whole of Whalekind.
Dolphin Song is a remarkable feat of imagination, but is firmly rooted in reality, inspired by the author’s belief that humans and dolphins will one day be able to communicate – to the lasting benefit of both species.
If you love dolphins – you’ll love Dolphin Song.
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