By Michael Bennett
CreateSpace, $15.00, 219 pages
Captain Michael Bennett has been places most of us can only imagine, and along the way, he’s had experiences both amazing and baffling. Whether it’s being hassled by surly dolphins, befriending a hermit crab on a treacherous island, spearheading the rescue of an orphaned orca, or relying on sheer luck to cross conflict-stricken Sri Lanka, Bennett has plenty of engaging tales to tell.
Devil Dolphins of Silver Lagoon and Other Stories is a collection of anecdotes and stories from his travels far and wide, and occasional awkward phrasing aside, it’s a delightful read. A laid-back, yet immensely capable, seaman with diving, navigation, and photography expertise under his belt, he’s the perfect right-hand man for any impromptu expedition. He has the indefatigable spirit of someone who has seen many incredible things, yet hasn’t lost his sense of awe and appreciation for the world’s wonders.
While I wish more of the photography he’d assisted on had been included, the photos adorning the front and back covers offer teasing glimpses of the adventures to come, which range from his time as a vagabond in Hawaii to misadventures on a poorly-organized cruise ship tour.
For my money, the highlight of the book is his trip to Isla de Cocos, an island that partly inspired Jurassic Park, as well as the location of the aforementioned hermit crab bonding experience. At turns a hilarious, unnerving, and deeply thoughtful narrative; it highlights both the highs and lows of his nomadic lifestyle beautifully.||And while the title claims he was a reluctant assistant, his boundless enthusiasm for his work and adventures is inescapable, as is his pride in the fine work he and photographer Flip Nicklin produced for National Geographic. (Although I’m sure he’d prefer not to have been bitten by rude dolphins to get those impressive photos).
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