The Mangrove Photography Awards, organized by the Mangrove Action Project, are in their ninth year and aim to showcase the delicate balance and interplay between wildlife, coastal communities, and mangrove forests. These ecosystems, both above and below the waterline, are vital for the environment and the communities that depend on them.
Soham Bhattacharyya’s breathtaking image of an endangered tigress in the Sundarbans Biosphere Reserve, India, titled “The Finest Flower of the Mangroves,” was crowned the overall winner. The photograph captures a young Royal Bengal tigress amidst the lush green mangrove forest, symbolizing the isolation these majestic creatures face in their dwindling habitats. The competition judge, Daisy Gilardini, remarked on the poignant message conveyed by the solitary figure of the tiger.
Mangroves play a crucial role in combating climate change, with one acre of mangrove forest absorbing nearly the same amount of carbon dioxide as an acre of the Amazon rainforest. Additionally, they shield coastlines from erosion, especially as intense storms become more frequent.
The awards featured several categories, including Mangroves & Landscape, Mangroves & Wildlife, Mangroves & Threats, Mangroves & Underwater, Mangroves & People, and Mangroves & Conservation Stories. Each category presented captivating images that tell a story of the beauty, challenges, and resilience of mangrove ecosystems.
Some standout images include:
- “Emerging Roots” by Cristiano Martins Xavier, capturing the partially submerged roots of mangroves in Brazil.
- “Hiding in Plain Sight” by Chien Lee, showcasing a common potoo camouflaged amidst the branches in Colombia’s Utría National Park.
- “The Theatre of Plastic” by Emanuele Biggi, depicting a land hermit crab using a plastic deodorant cap as a shell in Malaysia.
- “Séphora the Clam Diver” by Kris Pannecoucke, highlighting the traditional clam diving practices in the Mangroves National Park, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
These images not only celebrate the beauty of mangroves but also emphasize the importance of their conservation. The photographs serve as a reminder of the intricate relationships between humans, wildlife, and the environment, and the need to protect these vital ecosystems for future generations.