When I was eighteen, a very long time ago, I was bitten by a sea snake while I was bathing in the South China Sea. The pain was incredible, and I was very lucky to survive. The snake must have had nearly as big a shock as me. After all, it had just been doing its usual thing on a Saturday afternoon when my big human foot stepped on it. It shot off through the water, seemingly unharmed. I hope it was.
There was a huge variety of wild creatures in the sea off the Malaysian coast then. I'm sad to say that there are far fewer now. We humans have been hoovering up the harvest of the sea incredibly fast for a long time now in all kinds of harmful ways, while at the same time we've been dumping our waste in the water, including massive amounts of plastic. One day soon, there'll be a greater weight of plastic in the oceans than all the sea creatures combined.
A few years ago, I met an undersea wildlife photographer called Simon Christopher. He lives in Borneo and makes wonderful films of creatures living in the sea. He was very depressed by the state of our oceans.
"Don't people realise that life on earth as we know it depends on healthy oceans?" he kept saying, "and that they're being trashed all the time?"
I hardly slept that night. A story was beginning to grip my mind. The next day, I told it to Simon.
"Write it!" he said. "Just write it."
And so I began to write Song of the Dolphin Boy.
Our wonderful, unique ocean ecosystem is in A and E at the moment, needing urgent treatment. Wonderful doctors and nurses brought me back from the brink when my snake bite threatened to kill me. But there are no hospitals and doctors standing by to save the health of the sea. It's up to all of us to start doing that job. Our lives depend on it.