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In the midst of a pleasant cruise, Jayla, a freshman in college, is thrown overboard when the ship encounters a storm. She loses consciousness and wakes in an unfamiliar place, surrounded by strangers who explain that her ship sank, but she was brought to this place, an undersea domed world, by dolphins. Convinced she’s at the mercy of crazy people, especially when they tell her she must remain in this new world for the rest of her life, she decides to bide her time while planning her escape.

Jayla believes she has an ally in Ryan, the ship’s only other survivor, but he succumbs to a red-tide addiction, putting him into the enemy camp. She has no choice but to learn more about the other inhabitants of this home below the sea. She finds they are all survivors, or offspring of survivors, of plane crashes and shipwrecks. They salvage what they need from sunken ships and planes with the help of sea creatures, but not all the aquatic inhabitants are friends. Some are even deadly enemies of the dome dwellers.

The dome’s undesirables, those who can’t manage in a decent society—and Ryan soon proves to be one of these—are expelled to another area of the dome, a dingy slum.

Jayla finds love and companionship from an unexpected species—her “dolcher” Adev and a dome dweller, Arn. She discovers that life in the dome can be pleasant, but she still misses the life she knew. She decides to find a way to be able to live in both worlds with the help of Arn, who was born in the dome and knows no other life.