Off Kode, we followed the coral-covered ridges down to 50 meters this was our limit, as we were diving three times a day to explore as many sites as possible. The water was cold, a result of upwelling of deep water that also gives the area its biological richness. Visibility was 15 meters horizontal.
The shallows were very rich in fish life, particularly plankton feeders. Fork-tailed basslets swarmed around the drops-offs in great orange and purple schools. Pairs of colorful butterfish foraged in the reef crannies for small crustaceans or coral polyps. Clown triggerfish, perhaps the most distinctively marked of all the reef fishes, staked out their territory along the face the reef.
As soon as we got into the deeper waters a couple of white tip reef shark swung around to give us a closer look. Sharks tend to be wary animals, but these approached us quite closely. Then we encountered a huge grouper, weighing perhaps 90 kilos. Red snappers, with bright yellow eyes, kept a wary distance. A highly esteemed food fish, the snapper has a right to be careful around mankind. Then a green turtle rowed by, soon followed by a huge school of narrow banded batfish, a rare sight.
And of course, at 20 meters, the whale shark. Only one thing kept this dive from being perfect: when the giant cruised by, I was working with my macro photography set up. I also dive with a Nikonos and 15 mm lens, but I had already used up my film.
(On the next dive, off nearby Gili Motang, I was prepared when a whale shark cruised by. Unfortunately, even though I finned with all my might, I could not close in on the big fellah as much as I wanted. I squeezed off a few shots any way. )