A debut collection that goes beyond ordinary fish tales.
Over the course of his maritime career, Bennett has traveled all over the world in a variety of occupations, often as part of a team from National Geographic, affording him a unique perspective that allowed him to witness events from behind the camera and behind the wheel. This book contains elements of solid travel writing, from cultural misunderstandings and local cuisine to harrowing conditions and unexpected detours. For example, Bennett recounts a close call with protestors as he attempted to leave Panama during the chaos preceding the United States’ invasion in 1989. Particular readers will notice a penchant for run-on sentences, pun-filled chapter subtitles and the repetition of certain words in close proximity: “Despite our little dysfunctional film family, we were getting into some interesting situations with the whales and getting some good footage, and I was getting introduced to a whole new world.” However, there are many amusing, sharply rendered moments to make up for these minor drawbacks. A hermit crab on Cocos Island, designated as camp mascot, receives the moniker Thomas Pynchon. A tube-shaped signaling device for divers who become disoriented is nicknamed the Weenie-of-Shame. Student interest in marine life and sea travel may tempt parents and educators to share this book with younger readers, but some portions of the text may not be appropriate for children due to saltier content. Nonetheless, many passages could be excerpted for general consumption, most notably the final chapter, where Bennett explains his key role in rescuing an orca that faced an uncertain future after becoming separated from her pod. As the plan develops to transport Springer from Seattle to Vancouver Island in a large tank on a modified passenger ferry, Bennett touches on logistical issues, animal behavior, respect for indigenous peoples and the importance of collaborative endeavors, in which each person makes contributions from his or her area of expertise. In this story of reunification, Bennett presents a lesson applicable for everyone, strengthening the thematic unity of his collection.
A respectable first effort full of entertaining anecdotes.