2020 Mangrove Photography Winners & Shortlists

41 Incredible Images from the 2020 MAP Mangrove Photography Awards

Jaguars in mangroves, dancing trees, pink waterscapes and flamingos reclaiming a lost habitat are some of the incredible and intriguing images from this year’s competition.

The Mangrove Photography Awards 2020 gives us a fascinating insight into the world of mangroves from all corners of the earth. The 6th year of the competition has been the most exciting to date with new categories and four special judges; Cristina Mittermeier, Steve Winter, Octavio Aburto, and Jennifer Hayes.

The intimate relationships between wildlife, coastal communities and mangrove forests were captured by amateur and professional photographers from nearly 70 countries, as well as the fragility of these unique ecosystems from both above, and below, the water line.

Enjoy the winners and highly commended photos below, and please do visit the following page to view all 1,122 photos submitted – https://mangroveactionproject.org/mangrovephotographyawards/

Overall Winner

Once Again Being a Mother – Victor Hugo Luja Molina, Mexico

“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.”

Mangroves & Wildlife

Welcome Grin – Category Winner – Jenny Stock, Cuba

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

Lemon PupsRunner Up – Anita Kainrath, Bahamas

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

Mangroves & Wildlife – Highly Commended

Mangroves & Communities

Coastal Community – Category Winner – 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.”

Environmental Balance in the Bijagos – Runner Up – 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 “

Mangroves & Communities – Highly Commended

Mangroves & Landscapes

The Dancing Mangroves – Category Winner – 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.”

Mangroves from the Air – Category Runner Up – 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.”

Mangroves & Landscapes – Highly Commended

Mangroves & Threats

Mangrove & Bulldozer – Category Winner – 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.”

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.”

Mangroves & Threats – Honorable Mentions

Mangroves & Conservation

Sea of Pink – Category Winner – 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.”

Rangers and Fishermen on Pate Island – Runner Up, 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.’”

Mangroves & Conservation – Highly Commended

The International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem

The ‘International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem’, celebrated each year on the 26th July, aims to raise awareness of the importance of mangrove ecosystems and to promote solutions for their sustainable management and conservation. Mangrove forests are essential and productive ecosystems that provide numerous goods and services to the marine environment and local communities. These important habitats that are one of the last hunting grounds of the Bengal tiger and a refuge for countless migratory birds, mammals, and insects.

This historic day commemorates Greenpeace activist Hayhow Daniel Nanoto, who died of a heart attack on the 26th July 1998 during a massive protest to re-establish the mangrove wetlands in Muisne, Ecuador. The local community of Muisne joined forces with NGOs and the Greenpeace crew of its flagship Rainbow Warrior to dismantle an illegal shrimp pond in an attempt to restore this damaged zone back to its former state as a mangrove forest. Since Hayhow’s death, Mangrove Action Project (MAP) joined FUNDECOL of Ecuador in commemorating this date as Mangrove Action Day. As of 2015, 26th July was declared the International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem by UNESCO, also known as World Mangrove Day.

“The 26th July is the day that we, communities and organizations working in defense of the mangroves, joined for the first time as little ‘Davids’ confronting a big ‘Goliath’ - the shrimp industry. That is what we must celebrate, but please, do not forget Nanoto who left his life in the mangroves of Muisne,” said Veronica of FUNDECOL, Ecuador.

The growing demand for cheap shrimp in the United States, Canada, Japan, and Europe is fueling this destructive activity.  Industrial shrimp farming poses one of the greatest threats to mangrove forests and has caused over 35%  of the worldwide loss of mangroves. "An estimated 1.4 million hectares of mangroves have been cleared worldwide for conversion to shrimp farms, much of which now lies abandoned due to disease and pollution," said Alfredo Quarto, co-founder of MAP.

MAP is engaged deeply in supporting the conservation of mangroves, while advancing the sustainable development of their local communities. There is an urgent need to reverse the loss of mangrove forests and protect the rights of coastal communities to sustainably manage and conserve these ecosystems. It is only through our ongoing, cooperative actions that we will succeed in protecting these vital ecosystems.

We invite you to join us this year in preserving these critical ecosystems by entering our Photography Awards, and together with our partners and special judges, will harness the power of your mangrove images, to inspire conservation action.

Mangroves in Elizabeth Bay, Isabela Island, Galápagos, Ecuador. ©Jerome Gaw

The Story behind the Winning Photo

Enrico Marone, from Brazil spoke to us about his winning photo from the Mangrove Day 2019 photography contest titled 'Mangrove Crab Fisherman'.

A community leader in the south part of Bahia state fishes in a Brazilian MPA know as Marine Extractive Reserve, harvesting crabs through an artisanal technique using his arms. This traditional fishing method, learned for generations, respect the fish stocks and maintain a cultural heritage of these mangrove’s fishers.

When I was travelling to Bahia State on the northeastern coast of Brazilian to produce some images for my photo book Atlantic Brazil, I was looking for stories that showed the relationship between the fishers and the environment. At that time, I knew Mister João Barba (John Beard) from another conservation project in the region and he had hosted me through Canavieiras Marine Extractive Reserve, showing me how different communities live and fish in preserved ecosystems. Photographing the traditional fishers is an honour to me because the small-scale fisheries are being increasingly impacted by other economic activities and marine contamination - like the largest oil spill event last year that contaminated a thousand kilometres of beaches, rivers, and mangroves in Brazil.


Mister John has been a finfish fisher and crab fisher since he was a child and became a national leader defending the coast communities’ rights in Brazil. Capturing the brightness from his eye, of this inspiring leader, in his natural environment was a transformative moment for me and helped me understand the deep, strong and respectful connection between the traditional people and nature. They understand the principles of sustainability and can contribute significantly to participatory fisheries management in their territory. We have a lot to learn from them and we should amplify their voices. I would like that the power of this image inspires people to recognise how the traditional cultures are crucial for conservation and how healthy mangroves are important to maintain the life's quality of the locals and ourselves as well.

To take pictures of traditional cultures and landscapes, I always adopt a respectful approach, trying to observe and not interfere in the scenario. Working in the mangroves can be very challenging considering the mud-terrain that makes you bog down to the knees and the mosquitoes that can make you crazy. To avoid using mosquito repellent is important to choose the right clothes to protect yourself. Put on a tight shoe to protect your feet from the sharp oyster that lives in the mud and roots. A friend of mine sent me a link to the Mangrove Photo Award and instantly I got excited to submit because I think that we must strengthen global conservation initiatives and the photo narrative create the disruptive movement to increase awareness for the conservation of our natural world.

Have a look at more of Enrico's incredible work - Instagram: @enricomarone website: www.enricomarone.com

Click here to take part in the World Mangrove Day Photography Awards 2020. Your images have the power to inspire people and to help raise the profile of mangroves.




New CBEMR Video

New video "Restoring the Natural Mangrove Forest" launches on International Day of Forests.

MAP has a unique approach to restoring mangrove forests; by encouraging natural regeneration (ecological mangrove restoration), and by collaborating with coastal communities (community-based restoration). This results in bringing back the mangroves as close to the original forest that was previously destroyed, while the community learn to sustainably monitor and manage their forests into the future.

 More details on CBEMR and the project below video.

Coastal communities are intrinsically connected to the sea. Their lives depend on it. A key to happiness and life in tropical regions is a healthy mangrove forest.

We are now recognizing that a world without the rainforests by the sea, wouldn’t just mean a dismal scenario for coastal communities, but would ultimately affect us all, and our planet. With the ability to store vast amounts of carbon, mangrove forests are key to tackling climate change, but they are under threat worldwide.

The film takes us to the Andaman Coast in Southern Thailand, and explores the importance of mangrove forests and looks at MAP's methods to mangrove restoration. Much like the rest of Thailand, huge areas of mangroves were cut down during the 80s and 90s to make way for shrimp farms. And as mangrove destruction continues globally at nearly 1% annually, more ambitious attempts are being made to restore these carbon-rich forests.

CBEMR Program supported by Synchronicity Earth, LUSH Foundation, and Global Greengrant Fund

Mangrove Restoration project locations in Thailand

The benefits of ecological mangrove restoration over hand-planted mangrove plantations include...

Higher survival and success rates
Higher variety of flora species (that results in a higher biodiversity of fauna)
Better forest resilience

Species establish in their correct zones
Increases interconnections with other life forms and ecosystems
More goods for local people

The benefits of community-based restoration over hand-planted mangrove plantations include...

Empowered communities
Higher success rate due to monitoring and evaluation
Education, resulting in less pressure on existing mangrove forests
Alternative sustainable income such as eco-tourism for local communities
Addresses socio-economic issues

Find out more about the Nai Nang Apiculture project - https://mangroveactionproject.org/portfolio/nai-nang/

Thailand CBEMR Training workshop - https://mangroveactionproject.org/portfolio/cbemr-training-mangrove-restoration-2/



MAP to Help Maldives Save Mangroves

After an ongoing campaign effort by several factions to save the mangrove forests in the Maldives, the Environmental Minister publicly tweeted that they will be working in conjunction with MAP to help save and protect the country's remaining mangroves, especially those impacted by the construction of the Kulhudullfushi airport.

This represents a significant step forward in the campaign, and will hopefully result in a long and fruitful partnership that will benefit the mangroves on this beautiful country. Besides potentially saving a significant portion of mangroves, there are also several rare species that are found only on the atolls in the region. Thus, the project will hopefully help protect these important remnants, all while benefitting the local and global impacts associated with saving these forests!

Here is a link to an article from the Maldives Independent newspaper on MAP's partnership:


CBEMR Training in Tanzania

For two weeks at the end of January and beginning of February 2019, MAP is conducting a CBEMR training workshop in conjunction with local communities and Wetlands International in Tanzania. The training, which includes at least 5 days of formal trainings and 3 days in the field to conduct practical sessions, aims to help local stakeholders renew the degraded mangrove forests of the Iriwati Delta in Tanzania, Africa.

Though the temperatures were soaring and the ride out to the restoration site was a bumpy three hours in each direction, our MAP CBEMR team of Dominic Wodehouse and Jim Enright are reporting that things are going well! Both are experts in the CBEMR method, which fosters mangrove restoration both through community efforts and restoring the principal ecological conditions necessary for natural mangrove regeneration. This will be the second training conducted in conjunction with support from Wetlands International Africa, with hopefully more to follow!

MAP at the GMA

In January, two representatives from MAP traveled to Washington, D.C. to take part in the Global Mangrove Alliance's (GMA) inaugural conference.

As mangroves have gained significant consideration in the global environmental movement over recent years, more players in the conservation world have begun taking on the task of ensuring their successful conservation and restoration. Out of this recognition, the GMA was recently formed with the ambitious goal of restoring 20% of global mangrove forests by the year 2030. As a member of GMA, MAP brings its decades of work with mangroves to the table, lending its expertise to other members of the organization - including the likes of Conservation International, Wetlands International, World Wildlife Fund, and IUCN - helping them understand and implement successful methods of mangrove restoration, community work, and education.

The conference brought together over 80 representatives from the different organizations involved with the GMA - including MAP's Dominic Wodehouse and Martin Keeley. They were able to better introduce and lobby for both our CBEMR and education programs. The next GMA meeting will likely take place later this summer.

Mangrove Curriculum Introduced in Suriname

In the waning months of 2018 MAP's Education Director, Martin Keeley, traveled to Suriname to bring the Marvellous Mangroves curriculum training to the country.

During the course of his travels, Martin was able to visit and teach the curriculum to both schoolchildren as well as teachers-in-training, which will thus have a compounded effect.

Suriname marks the 15th country globally in which the MM has been introduced! It is now part of the national curriculum of several of those countries, and has been taught to over 250,000 children globally. One of the best forms of protecting the world's vital ecosystems is to make the future guardians of them aware and involved from  a young age, which Martin has been able to do to an unparalleled degree!

Several other countries are in the works for MM in 2019... so stay tuned!