Robert Alan-Haven’s first experience of swimming with dolphins was in the sea off Dingle Harbour in Ireland. His fascination with these animals grew as he toured the world to swim with pods and individuals in the oceans and in captive environments. Robert went on to lead dolphin swimming groups and to write a best-selling book, Boji, a Dolphin’s Story. His new book, The Island Sanctuary, takes up the story of Boji’s life and the struggle to find his place in a world in which his experience of humans conflicts with his instinctive desire to return to the less familiar environment of a wild dolphin pod. Robert draws on his extensive knowledge of wild and captive dolphins to paint pictures for the reader that move between the space and freedom of the ocean, and the confines of life endured by captive dolphins in ‘ocean parks’ and netted enclosures in sea bays and inlets.
The story provides a moving account of the highs and lows of the relationships between humans and dolphins, interacting to their mutual benefit or, in some situations, the exploitation of animals by humans. We meet Kate and Andrew, a human couple who rejoice in their relationship with Boji; and we follow Boji’s pairing with a female partner, Lanaya. These principal characters create the changing canvas of situations and conflicts that makes this book an engrossing and rewarding tale.
Robert, who lives in Stanton in the Peak, has a vision for those who will turn to The Island Sanctuary for insight and enjoyment:
“Those who yearn to be true to themselves, come what may; who find fulfilment in delving deeply beneath the surface of life; who are fascinated by the prospect of living exceptional lives – they will journey willingly into the world created from the experience of swimming with dolphins around the world.”