Ben Warren wants to be a waterman, like his father, and make his living by catching crabs on Chesapeake Bay. But Mr. Warren has other ideas: he wants Ben to go to college, no matter what. Pollution on the bay is making things tough for all of the watermen. When Ben sees a hidden oil slick, he knows he has to tell someone. Chemical dumping is illegal, and the oil will kill crabs and fish if it isn't taken care of in time. But his father had forbidden Ben to talk to David Watchman, the scientist who is Ben's only hope. Is Ben strong enough to do what he knows is right?