Your novel is set in the world of the dolphins and is fiction. How likely do you think it is that dolphins actually do communicate that fluently and have such a sophisticated culture?
I think it is very likely, and much of what we know about how they communicate and interact reinforces that. In Dolphin Way, I went to great lengths to ensure that as much as possible of the detail about the capabilities of the dolphins, such as how long they can hold their breath, how they sleep and how they hunt, is all factual.
So, although this is a fictional story, the reader or listener will learn a lot about dolphins and the real threats they are facing while enjoying it. More information about my novel and the facts and fantasy involved in the story can be found at dolphin-way.com.
Where do the quotes come from at the start of each chapter, and what do you hope that people would learn most from dolphins?
I wrote all of the quotes myself. I put them there to emphasise that the dolphins in the story have a sophisticated culture and a long history. Of course, they can’t write anything down, so it would make sense that they’d have oral histories. I used the concept of the Starwriters as a logical way for them to record those histories accurately; specially trained females who use the predictable motions of the stars and planets along with a unique song to memorise information while in a trance-like state. Dolphins have similar intelligence to our own and really have evolved a society that could exist sustainably forever. That is something we could all learn from.
You have an extensive history of diving and you are a board member of Project AWARE. What are some things that people can do to help protect the ocean?
The ocean certainly needs our help. Issues such as marine debris need urgent attention from humanity; fortunately, divers tend to be the most aware of the issues and are very motivated to want to help.
Simple acts like performing clean-ups of dive sites can help tremendously, particularly when properly organized to accurately record what is found. Gathering this information on a global basis helps us to pinpoint and put pressure on the major polluters. There are many other kinds of underwater citizen science projects that divers can help with. They can collect really useful data that scientists can collate and use to track trends. PADI and Project AWARE organize many of these sorts of efforts, and PADI’s Torchbearer program emphasizes that with so many divers willing to take positive action, a lot can be achieved.
What do you think the future holds for the diving industry?
I think the future is very bright for the diving industry. Unlike many activities that come in and out of fashion, diving will always be popular as people will always be fascinated to go underwater and see a whole new world.
The current restrictions surrounding COVID-19 will ease in time and we will see the diving industry return to its former levels. Most encouragingly, we are seeing that new divers are very much aware of the importance of preserving the wonderful world that they are introduced to.
Read more about Mark Caney’s illustrious diving career at markcaney.com, and find his novel, Dolphin Way: Rise of the Guardians at good bookstores or online.