|This article is written from a Real World point of view.|
- "I know this sounds crazy, but... but it's like someone is sending out a distress signal. Like they are calling for help."
"Only this someone is in the water, or under the water, or something. [...] Yes, Tobias is right. It's an Andalite. That's who is calling to us from the sea. An Andalite."
- ―Tobias and Cassie to the other Animorphs
It all started with the dreams. But Cassie didn't pay much attention to them. She and her friends had all been having weird dreams ever since they'd first learned to morph. Maybe it was just some crazy side effect.
Then Cassie discovered that she and Tobias had been having the exact same dreams. Dreams about the ocean. And a strange feeling that someone is calling to them. Calling for help. Cassie, Tobias, Jake, Rachel, and Marco have to figure out if the dreams are a message -- or a trap. And if it is a trap, it could mean the end -- for everyone...
Cassie and Tobias are having strange dreams about a presence in the ocean. Jake sees a news item on television about debris with what looks like Andalite writing on it, that has washed up on the beach. When he shows it to the others, Cassie and Tobias happen to have such strong visions at that time that they momentarily pass out. The Animorphs decide to investigate, and acquire dolphin morphs to do so.
While out in the ocean, they find a humpback whale under attack by a group of sharks. The Animorphs fight the sharks and drive them off, and Marco is nearly killed in the process. Marco is able to morph back to his human form, and the whale, grateful, saves him from drowning. The whale speaks to Cassie through song, telling her about a strange place of grass and trees under the ocean. Cassie has a feeling that this place is of Andalite origin, and the Animorphs wonder if Cassie's and Tobias's visions are a sort of distress call from an Andalite trapped in the ocean
They decide that the distress call is connected to the morphing ability, and Cassie and Tobias feel it the strongest because Cassie is the most in control of her morphing ability and Tobias is trapped in a morph. They also figure out that Visser Three could be receiving the message and that the Yeerks are probably looking for the lost Andalite as well.The Andalite's location is too far from the shore for the Animorphs to reach under the two-hour morphing limit, so they (except Tobias) morph into seagulls and stow away on a large container ship (called the Newmar, from Monrovia, headed towards Singapore) that is heading in the right direction. They abandon ship and morph to dolphin when they are in range and discover the Dome of an Andalite Dome ship deep beneath the ocean's surface.
They enter through an airlock and meet Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthill. Marco quickly gives him the nickname Ax, and the Animorphs tell him that he is the only survivor of the Andalite-Yeerk battle in Earth orbit and that they met and received the morphing power from Prince Elfangor. Ax reveals that Elfangor was, in fact, his older brother.
The meeting is brief however, as the Yeerks discover the sunken Dome ship and begin to drop depth charges. Ax had previously acquired a tiger shark, and he and the Animorphs escape. They are pursued by Visser Three in Mardrut morph; as they tire, Visser Three gains on them. The Animorphs decide to make a last stand, but are saved when Visser Three is attacked and chased off by a pod of sperm whales. The whales give the tired Animorphs a ride back to the shore.
Ax pledges to fight with the Animorphs and adopts Jake as his prince. He acquires Jake, Rachel, Cassie, and Marco and blends all the DNA strands into one in order to create his own human morph. The Animorphs decide to hide him in the woods near Cassie's farm.
- Dome ship (First Appearance)
- The Animorphs decide to morph bottlenose dolphins in order to locate an Andalite Dome ship, after Tobias, Cassie and Visser Three receive visions of an Andalite trapped within, asking for help. They meet and rescue Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthill, the younger brother of Elfangor-Sirinial-Shamtul.
- Aximili, whom the Animorphs refer to as "Ax", reveals that the Yeerks are not just planning to infest the humans on Earth, but to eliminate most of the plant and animal life and render the planet barren, akin to the Yeerk homeworld.
- Ax decides to join the Animorphs in their fight and performs a Frolis Maneuver (acquiring multiple DNA strands and blending them into one) by acquiring Jake, Rachel, Cassie and Marco in order to create his own unique human morph.
- Jake is chosen to be the leader of the Animorphs.
- Certain Human-Controllers, notably Tom (Temrash 114) and Chapman (Iniss 226) begin to suspect that the "Andalite bandits" are in fact human, when they find human footsteps on the beach leading into the water despite no humans being in the water. Chapman acknowledges that it may not be a mere coincidence but that only a fool would attempt to prove Visser Three's beliefs wrong.
- Cassie is revealed to be romantically interested in Jake, a feeling he reciprocates. During a face-off against Visser Three's Mardrut morph, Cassie attempts to share her feelings for Jake in case they die, only for Jake to cut her off and reply that he feels the same.
|Morpher||Morphs acquired||Morphs used|
|Jake||Bottlenose Dolphin, Seagull||Trout, Bottlenose Dolphin, Seagull|
|Rachel||Bottlenose Dolphin, Seagull||Trout, Bottlenose Dolphin, Seagull|
|Cassie||Squirrel (Magilla), Bottlenose Dolphin (Monica), Seagull||Squirrel (Magilla), Trout, Bottlenose Dolphin (Monica), Seagull|
|Marco||Bottlenose Dolphin, Seagull||Trout, Bottlenose Dolphin, Seagull|
|Ax||Tiger Shark, Human (Cassie), Human (Marco), Human (Rachel), Human (Jake)||Tiger Shark, Human (blending Cassie, Marco, Rachel, and Jake's DNA into one strand)|
To be added
- The cover quote is, "Sometimes you have to change a little more than your mind...."
- The inside front cover quote is, "Cassie's acting a little fishy...."
- This is the first of many instances in the series where the Animorphs travel to another location on Earth outside of the vicinity of their hometown, in this case hitching a ride on a ship and venturing out into the ocean to rescue Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthill.
- Cassie remarks that Marco doesn't have much money to afford admission to The Gardens. With this issue in mind, it would seem more prudent that the Animorphs acquire as much animals as they can per trip; in fact, Rachel spotted the dolphin tank during their trip in The Invasion, only for Cassie to convince them that they would never find a use for it.
- In later books, it is revealed that the species of shark Ax had acquired in this book was a tiger shark.
- The six dolphins from The Gardens are named after the main characters on the TV Show Friends.
- Originally, Ax was supposed to be introduced in the second book . But once it became clearer that this was going to be a long-running series, K.A. decided to delay his entrance into the world of Animorphs.
- Ax is the first of the Animorphs to acquire a human morph.
- Jake is officially pronounced as "Prince Jake" in this book by Ax, and he is continued to be called this by Ax throughout the series, even though Jake insists that "It's just Jake".
- Cassie refers to her barn as both the Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic and the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.
- Promotional Tie-In: This book featured a contest for Animorphs fans (as seen in the U.S Cover) where they were asked to send in their responses on what type of animal they wished they could morph into and why. From the answers, 3 winners would be picked who would then be morphed into the animal of their choice and published within future books. The entries were picked on October 1996, December 1996, and February 1997. You can see pictures of the winners morphing their chosen animals at the back of books 10, 12 and Megamorphs #1.
- One of the Animorphs Jigsaw Puzzles depicts a scene from this book where the Animorphs in dolphin morph discover Ax inside the dome of a dome ship on the ocean floor.
- In the previous book, The Encounter, Tobias mentions that the two wolves at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic were there because one had been shot while the other had been poisoned; however, in this book, Cassie remarks that both wolves were poisoned.
- Cassie mentions that she had seen Rachel morph into her African Elephant before. However, at this point, Rachel has only morphed the elephant twice, and both times it was out of Cassie's vicinity.
- The ship the Animorphs are on is headed to Singapore (the country in Southeast Asia) going 18-miles/hour south. As the later books reveal that the series is set on the coast of California, the ship should have been heading southwest.
- Ax tells the other Animorphs that Hork-Bajir are incapable of swimming; however, in The Change, Jara Hamee reveals that they can swim.
2011 Relaunch Differences
- In the original 1996 edition, Marco mentions that he has dreams involving Mister Rogers' Neighborhood and its mascot, King Friday, as well as a woman on Baywatch. In the 2011 reprint, it is changed to Sesame Street, with Elmo replacing King Friday's mention, while "woman on Baywatch" is changed to "woman who lifeguards at the beach".
- In the original 1996 edition, Jake pulls a VHS tape out of his bag, with Marco citing "Cool. Let's watch a movie." Jake then replies "Not a movie."; in the 2011 reprint, after Jake pulls the VHS tape out, Marco states "Cool. A piece of prehistoric technology" with Jake's reply being changed to "Not everybody has DVR."
- Additionally, Marco tells Rachel that "I was busy watching my taped reruns Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Last night it was the one where it was a beautiful day in the neighborhood" while Jake asks her if they can go downstairs and use her VCR. In the reprint, Marco instead says "I was busy watching reruns of Sesame Street. Last night it was the one where it was a sunny day, sweepin' the clouds away" while Jake asks Rachel if they can go downstairs and "use [her] mom's old VCR."
- Marco's comment about calling Psychic Friends is changed to "psychic hotline" and "Madame Zora" respectively.
- In the original edition, Cassie mentions listening to her Walkman. The reprint changes it so that Cassie states that she is listening to music.
- In the original 1996 edition, Marco mentions The Hunt for Red October (1990) as a "great movie"; the 2011 reprint modifies this to "great old movie".