As a boy growing up in Miami, the water was a second home to Danny Munoz. He loved watching the fish from behind the glass of the man aquariums he owned as a kid.
Now a marine biologist at Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific, he spends his days in the water taking care of the fish and coral.
One of the few Latinos in the industry, the Cuban American is now inspiring other to jump right in.
“I guess when I was younger, the way they moved, seeing their bright colors,” Munoz explained, describing his love of sea life.
At 17, he and earned his scuba certification, allowing him to jump right in on the action.
“Once I was able to actually dive and see these animals for myself, then it just went to a whole other level,” he said, of the moment that sealed the deal on his future career.
“It was kind of, it was inevitable,” he said. “I knew I was going to do something with the ocean. Working day in and day out with these animals, diving any chance I got, even on my own.”
That passion led him to his job at the aquarium, where he maintains exhibits, letting him live his passion every day -- with a wetsuit as his uniform.
Munoz is himself a rare fish in the sea as a Latino marine biologist.
“I think we are a small group,” he said. “It would be great to continue to push Latinos forward, not into just marine biology, but science.”
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And he knows that getting more people involved would help the ocean he loves so much.
“The ocean is in trouble. I think we all know that it's kind of on us to get that message out there, inspire people.”
And it's that educational message he's proud to pass along in his native language, hoping it might spark an interest.
“There's always a few Latino kids and I recognize them and they want to ask me questions and sometimes it's in Spanish,” he said. “I don't know, maybe they wouldn't of asked that question if it wasn't me and it was someone who didn't speak Spanish.”
He said he thanks his Cuban immigrant parents for encouraging him to follow his dreams, never forgetting what his mom always told him.
“Lo que es pa ti nadie te lo quita.”
If it's intended for you, if it’s meant for you, no one can take that from you.