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Pictures reveal magic of mangrove ecosystems

Winners of the 2020 Mangrove Photography Awards
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Mangrove Action Project recently announced the winners of its 2020 Mangrove Photography Awards. Here are some highlights.

Victor Hugo Luja Molina won the competition with an image titled Once Again Being a Mother, which shows a female jaguar in an intimate moment with her cub in a mangrove forest in Mexico. 

There are also winners from five other categories highlighting threats, conservation, communities, wildlife, and landscapes in mangroves.

Images capture the relationships between wildlife, coastal communities, and mangrove forests, as well as the fragility of these unique ecosystems from both above and below the waterline.

The sixth year of the competition has been the most exciting to date with the inclusion of some special judges; Cristina Mittermeier, Steve Winter, Octavio Aburto, and Jennifer Hayes.

The contest received over a thousand entries with some extraordinary images showing the tallest mangroves of Ecuador, inspiring underwater worlds, fly-over aerials, majestic and endangered wildlife, and a passion to restore a more balanced world.

OVERALL WINNER – Victor H. Luja Molina

Jaguars in mangroves: a relationship rarely seen. This mother named “Janis” in an intimate moment with her cub, is a mangrove resident and has reproduced at least three times. Research teams have monitored jaguar (Panthera onca) populations in mangroves in Nayarit, western Mexico.”

‘The mangrove ecosystem in Western Mexico is facing huge conservation problems with so much land use change, including illegal shrimp farms. I had hoped that by entering the photography awards, it would raise awareness of the importance of mangroves to jaguars here, but also the vulnerability of these habitats.”

‘After two years of failed attempts with the camera trap; blurry images, partial shots, and lost cameras, Janis, a female resident mangrove jaguar, finally gave us a great moment in front of the infra-red with one of her cubs.’

‘I love this picture because it shows the mangrove roots, the mangrove forest, in detail, and at night. I think this is one of the very few photos that exist of jaguars in mangrove ecosystems.’  

‘The jaguars that live in the mangroves here in Western Mexico are special and unique. They feed on a wide variety of prey, from crabs to mammals, but an important part of their diet are birds. Our research shows the jaguars are breeding well in the mangroves, including Janis, who has produced 4 cubs in 6 years.’

‘I hope this image can inspire a new generation of conservation photographers.

Photos can communicate the importance of local projects while I hope it may reach the people who can support conservation programs financially, including governments.”


WINNER OF MANGROVES & WILDLIFEWelcome Grin – Jenny Stock, Cuba

“A beautiful and powerful animal, an American Crocodile (C. porosus) in his home; the mangroves of Jardines de la Reina, Cuba.”

“A beautiful and powerful animal, an American Crocodile (C. porosus) in his home; the mangroves of Jardines de la Reina, Cuba.”


RUNNER UP OF MANGROVES & WILDLIFELemon Pups– Anita Kainrath, Bahamas

“Juvenile lemon sharks in Eleuthera using mangrove-fringed lagoons and creeks as nurseries.”

“Juvenile lemon sharks in Bimini using mangrove-fringed lagoons and creeks as nurseries.”


WINNER OF MANGROVES & COMMUNITIES – Coastal Community – Morgan Bennett-Smith, Papua New Guinea

“Local boys gather in front of a small mangrove-associated outcropping along the coast of Papua New Guinea. Coastal ecosystems here rely on a community-based system of conservation and protection; the local people value their ecosystems and protect them as such.”

“Local boys gather in front of a small mangrove-associated outcropping along the coast of Papua New Guinea. Coastal ecosystems here rely on a community-based system of conservation and protection; the local people value their ecosystems and protect them as such.”


RUNNER UP OF MANGROVES & COMMUNITIES – Environmental Balance in the Bijagos – Ricci Shryock, Guinea Bissau

“A portrait of Ndira and Teresa of the Bijagos community in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa, who are part of a women’s group who wade through water amidst the mangroves during low tide to look for oysters. The oysters are then sold or sometimes used in traditional ceremonies “

“A portrait of Ndira and Teresa of the Bijagos community in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa, who are part of a women’s group who wade through water amidst the mangroves during low tide to look for oysters. The oysters are then sold or sometimes used in traditional ceremonies “


WINNER OF MANGROVES & LANDSCAPES – The Dancing Mangroves – Harry Pieters, Indonesia

“A unique mangrove sunset scene along Walakiri Beach in East Sumba, Indonesia where the trees sway across a stretch of white sand.”

“A unique mangrove sunset scene along Walakiri Beach in East Sumba, Indonesia where the trees sway across a stretch of white sand.”


RUNNER UP OF MANGROVES & LANDSCAPES – Mangroves from the Air – Chris Scarffe, Madagascar

“The mangroves and meandering rivers of northwest Madagascar from the air in early morning light, with the dramatic, volcanic island of Nosy Komba in the background.”

“The mangroves and meandering rivers of northwest Madagascar from the air in early morning light, with the dramatic, volcanic island of Nosy Komba in the background.”


WINNER OF MANGROVES & THREATS – Mangrove & Bulldozer – Matthew Potenski, Bahamas

“I took this split shot of a sand spit being built across a shallow lagoon. By the next day the mangrove shoot pictured was buried under piles of fill. This development had no building permits and is indicative of how projects can move forward and do damage without any legal authority.”

“I took this split shot of a sand spit being built across a shallow lagoon. By the next day the mangrove shoot pictured was buried under piles of fill. This development had no building permits and is indicative of how projects can move forward and do damage without any legal authority.”


RUNNER UP OF MANGROVES & THREATS – The Real ‘Man Vs Wild’ aka ‘Live and Let Live’ – Runner Up, Vidyasagar Hariharan, India

“The remaining mangroves in Mumbai are under threat. Here flamingos are seen feeding in a wetland with the reflection of the buildings, a grim testimony of the struggle and loss of habitat these birds are facing.”

“The remaining mangroves in Mumbai are under threat. Here flamingos are seen feeding in a wetland with the reflection of the buildings, a grim testimony of the struggle and loss of habitat these birds are facing.”


WINNER OF MANGROVES & CONSERVATION – Sea of Pink– Pratik Chorge, India

“With reduced human activity this year, a record number of flamingos made the journey across to Mumbai, India. Talawe Wetlands was given an extra pink spectacle after microscopic algae and bacteria mixed with the rising humidity and turned parts of the water pink.”

“With reduced human activity this year, a record number of flamingos made the journey across to Mumbai, India. Talawe Wetlands was given an extra pink spectacle after microscopic algae and bacteria mixed with the rising humidity and turned parts of the water pink.”


RUNNER UP OF MANGROVES & CONSERVATION – Rangers and Fishermen on Pate Island – Roshni Lodhia, Kenya

“Rangers on Pate Island, Kenya, are tasked to patrol the mangrove areas for illegal mangrove logging. ‘We as crab fishermen, we couldn’t fish here because the illegal loggers used to be here. But the PMCC (Pate Marine Community Conservancy) rangers have chased them away so we can catch crabs again.’”

“Rangers on Pate Island, Kenya, are tasked to patrol the mangrove areas for illegal mangrove logging. ‘We as crab fishermen, we couldn’t fish here because the illegal loggers used to be here. But the PMCC (Pate Marine Community Conservancy) rangers have chased them away so we can catch crabs again.”

Visit Mangroves Action Project to see more pictures.

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