Lad Akins

How long have you been doing dive surveys?

Since 1990.  I was on the very first fish survey dive with Ned DeLoach, Paul Humann and Amy and Spencer Slate.  I thought it was kind of a dumb idea until I tried it – way cool!!  I’ve been hooked ever since.

When did you join the Golden Hamlet Club?

Sometime in the 1990’s 

Where do you survey?

Almost anyplace I can find a fish!

Do you have a favorite fish or invertebrate? Why?

That’s tough – every fish out there is amazing if you know what their story is.  Even the common ones.  I do like the “stealth basses” (Peppermint, Candy, Cave) and also the hamlets.  Blue Parrot is always a beauty to watch.  A few gobies species I discovered and described in Mexico.  Diamond and Arrow Blennies… see what I mean??  How can you narrow it down? 

What is your favorite thing or memory about REEF and the Volunteer Survey Project?

Always the people!  Such great enthusiasm and excitement around fishwatchers.  All-night night dive with Ned and Anna Deloach is a good one.  Century dives with Carlos and Allison Estape.

And the time we were having ice-cream at midnight after a night dive talking about sailfins attacking a mirror.  A fisherman was listening nearby and he was all excited – he wanted to know how many we caught, what kind of lure we used, where we were fishing, etc.  He had a very blank look when we told him “blennies” :) 

What is your favorite diving destination?

I’m in the water!  Even 5 feet of visibility in a grassbed can be a great dive.  You just need to know what to look for.  Being underwater is an amazing opportunity and knowing who you are diving with and their interesting traits and personalities makes it that much better – I’m talking about fish here :)