Lad Akins is the Director of Special Projects for REEF. Based in Key Largo, Florida, Lad started with REEF as the organization’s Founding Executive Director in 1990 and worked in that position for 16 years until shifting gears to focus on Special Projects. Lad has helped develop many of REEF’s long standing programs including the Volunteer Fish Survey Project and continues to lead numerous field expeditions each year. He has served as a US Delegate on the Bi-National Commission on Marine Protected Areas with South Africa, solo piloted Deepworker submersibles to assess fish assemblages at depths over 500’, saturated for 8 days as an aquanaut in the Aquarius Research Station and discovered and described new species of fish. As a US Coast Guard licensed Captain and a dive instructor with over 10,000 dives, Lad has been recognized as NOAA Environmental Hero, an Oris Sea Hero, Scuba Diving Hero of the Sea and has recently been inducted into the industry’s Scuba Diving Hall of Fame. Lad’s current focus on invasive lionfish includes serving on numerous federal and international panels and working groups, working with major media, and co-authoring over 20 peer reviewed papers on the issue.