Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
TOGIAK: From Puerto Rico to Cape Peirce -Meet BioTech Manuel Cruz
Alaska Region, February 11, 2008
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Manuel Cruz
Manuel Cruz - Photo Credit: n/a

A great many people have a hand in taking care of Alaska’s refuges. Some are native Alaskans, while others have come from other parts of the United States, choosing to live and work in the Last Frontier. Still others come from…Puerto Rico? Yes, Puerto Rico. Meet Manuel Cruz, Biological Technician for Cape Peirce, Togiak National Wildlife Refuge (NWR.)

Manuel came from Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico to Togiak NWR this past year to work as a Biotech at Cape Peirce. He brought with him many talents and skills that proved to be invaluable to his position, the Refuge, and the wildlife of Cape Peirce.

Manuel has a diverse and experienced background working with wildlife. For the past seven years, he has assisted with population counts of various species in Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and Canada. In Puerto Rico he lives by Cabo Rojo NWR and has been a part of both bird and amphibian counts as well as bird banding efforts.

While at Cape Peirce, Manuel was responsible for seabird, marine mammal, and terrestrial mammal counts. He also documented and reported aerial and marine disturbances. In addition to his regular duties, Manuel proved to be a terrific teacher for area junior high students that took part in the Cape Peirce Marine Science and Yup’ik Culture Camp in August. Thanks to his enthusiastic efforts, students were able to get an in-depth look at how seabirds are counted, how that data is used, and what being a biotech entails.

Those who have a chance to visit with Manuel quickly learn why he is excels at his job: wildlife is his passion, especially birds. He is an extremely talented and dedicated photographer with a knack for getting close to the birds and other animals he works around. He likes to immerse himself in nature in a non-intrusive way that allows the animals to “teach me their philosophy.” As mentioned, birds are a particular interest. When asked about birding, Manuel responded, a smile forming: “That’s my life.”

In addition to all of his work on behalf of Togiak NWR, Manuel is a great guy, always quick with a smile and ready to help out. He admits Alaska was a bit of an awakening when he first arrived back in April; he felt quite a bit of disbelief that there could be so much snow so late in the year. He acclimated quickly and says he would like to return next year. Some of the things he grew to like about Alaska were the long daylight hours to study and photograph wildlife and the fact that “Wildlife is always in your footsteps.” About Cape Peirce Manuel commented, “It was at the top of my list as far as where I wanted to go. It’s truly amazing.”

Contact Info: Kristen Gilbert, 907-786-3391, Kristen_Gilbert@fws.gov
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