Conservation

Mangrove Photography Awards 2020 winners announced

written by Oceanographic Staff

The sixth annual Mangrove Photography Awards, judged by Cristina Mittermeier, Steve Winter, Octavio Aburto, and Jennifer Hayes, has announced it’s 2020 winners.

Victor Hugo Luja Molina was the overall winner of the competition, thanks to her rarely seen capture. ‘Once Again Being a Mother’ shows a female Jaguar in an intimate moment with her cub in a mangrove forest in Mexico.  There are also winners from the five categories highlighting threats, conservation, communities, wildlife, and landscapes in mangroves.

Run by the Mangrove Action Project (MAP), the hope is that the awards will reach out to people in ways that will inspire them to find out more about mangroves and to take conservation action.

  • Overall winner: Once again being a mother, by Victor Hugo Luja Molina (Mexico).

“Photos have the power to tell a story that many that people are unaware of,” said Leo Thom, MAP Creative Director. “We wanted to give people an opportunity to show others the intimate relationships between wildlife, coastal communities and mangrove forests, as well as the fragility of these ecosystems.”

The competition received more than one thousand entries, with some images showcasing the tallest mangroves of Ecuador, ethereal underwater landscapes, fly-over aerials, majestic and endangered wildlife, and a passion to restore a more balanced world.

‘The mangrove ecosystems in Western Mexico are facing huge conservation problems with so much land use change, including illegal shrimp farms,” said overall winner Victor Hugo Luja Molina. “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.”

  • Mangroves & Wildlife category winner: Welcome Grin, by Jenny Stock (Cuba).

Entries captured 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. This year’s competition takes us into some of the most extraordinary and inaccessible mangrove habitats around the world, providing viewers a glimpse of what needs to be protected.

“The Mangrove Action Project is helping to conserve and restore mangrove forests around the world,” added Thom. “Part of our work involves raising awareness of these critical ecosystems to as many people as we can. And with the help of our amazing judges, our contest really took off this year, receiving well over a thousand submissions from nearly 70 countries – that’s over half of all nations with mangroves in them.”

  • Mangroves & Conservation category winner: Sea of Pink, by Pratik Chorge (India).

Aside from the overall winner, categories included Mangroves & Wildlife, Mangroves & Communities, Mangroves & Landscapes, Mangroves & Threats and Mangroves & Conservation.

“Success within the field of conservation photography depends on an artist’s ability to reveal the beauty of the most under appreciated environments and organisms on our planet,” said awards judge and SeaLegacy cofounder, Cristina Mittermeier. “Through impactful imagery and visual storytelling, we can rally people to action, sparking empathy and connection to our natural world in place of apathy and ignorance. The Mangrove Photography Awards offers a chance for photographers to raise their voices for the protection of one of the most critical ecosystems in the world for climate change mitigation. Our need for passionate creators and advocates who can help shift our global mindset towards a more sustainable, compassionate way of life has never been more urgent as people across the world are losing their homes, livelihoods, and the very shores they live on to climate change.

  • Mangroves & Landscapes category winner: The Dancing Mangroves, by Harry Pieters (Indonesia)

“I hope this image can inspire a new generation of conservation photographers,” added Luja Molina. “Photos can communicate the importance of local projects while I hope it may reach the people who can support conservation programs financially, including Governments.”

Mangroves are some of the most undervalued ecosystems on the planet. They help to reduce rising global temperatures, prevent food shortages, protect biodiversity and replenish the ocean. Yet, they are still considered by many as wastelands of little importance. It is vital that these ecosystems are carefully and consistently protected.

“Mangroves serve as vital protective and spawning grounds to tropical fisheries worldwide, help mitigate the effects and causes of climate breakdown by sequestering huge amounts of carbon, and protect coastlines against storms and tsunamis – all vital for sustaining an ever-increasing global population,” said Thom. “Despite their abilities to help solve environmental emergencies, they are still rapidly declining around the world; losing out to shrimp farms, tourist resorts, agriculture, and urban land development over the past few decades.”

To see the full list of categories, winners and runners up, click here.

For more from our Ocean Newsroom, click here.

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