Mangrove forests: Photography winners show beauty of ecosystems

Musfiqur Rahman has been named overall winner of this year’s Mangrove Photography Awards, for his image of a wild honey gatherer subduing giant honeybees with smoke, in Bangladesh.

A wild honey gatherer subdues giant honeybees by smoke, deep in a mangrove forest in Bangladeshimage source, Musfiqur Rahman

Run by the Mangrove Action Project, the competition – now in its seventh year – aims to show the relationships between wildlife, coastal communities and mangrove forests, as well as the fragility of these unique ecosystems, both above and below the waterline.

Rahman’s winning image, A Brave Livelihood, was selected from more than 1,300 entries from 65 countries.

“Indigenous Mowal honey gatherers, protected by Bonbibi, the forest goddess, must evade the dangers (Bengal tigers and saltwater crocodiles) lurking in the mangroves,” says Rahman.

“This ancient tradition and sustainable relationship between people and the mangrove forest takes place in the Sundarbans in Bangladesh, and also India.”

Mangroves are an important protection against climate change, with one acre (4,000 sq m) of mangrove forest absorbing nearly the same amount of carbon dioxide as an acre of Amazon rainforest.

The forests also protect coastlines from eroding as intense storms grow more frequent.

“Today, less than half the world’s original mangrove forest cover remains,” says competition judge Robert Irwin.

“It has never been more important to promote the conservation of these fragile ecosystems through inspiring photography.”

Here is a selection of winning images from six competition categories, with descriptions by the photographers.

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Mangroves & People winner: Mangrove Propagators, by Mark Kevin Badayos, Philippines

A silhouette of two children standing amongst mangrove saplings as the sun sets in the Philippinesimage source, Mark Kevin Badayos

The sun sets on a stretch of coastline after a mangrove restoration and beach clean took place within the local community.

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Mangroves & People runner-up: Kayaking at Al Reem Island, by Hooreya Al Muflahi, UAE

An aerial view of mangrove trees and a river in UAEimage source, Hooreya Al Muflahi

Enchanted by the mangroves during a kayaking trip, we put the drone up to get a different perspective to reveal the perfectly calm blue water between the mangroves.

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Mangroves & People highly commended: Work in Progress, by Abhijit Chakraborty, India

A group of women pass material to each other to build a dam in Indiaimage source, Abhijit Chakraborty

As climate change and sea level rise threaten the future of the Sundarbans, building dams and mangrove beds is becoming one of the last hopes for the people here.

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Mangroves & Landscape winner: Autumn Tree, by Zohaib Anjum, UAE

An aerial view of mangrove trees and a coastline in Abu Dhabiimage source, Zohaib Anjum

Most of the mangroves along UAE’s coastline are found in Abu Dhabi, acting as a “green lung” for the city.

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Mangroves & Landscape runner-up: Mangroves at Dawn, by Melodi Roberts, USA

A bird flies between mangrove trees in water in Floridaimage source, Melodi Roberts

A peaceful early morning moment at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in Florida.

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Mangroves & Landscape highly commended: Shining Stars above Mangrove Tree, by Yusuf Bin Madi, Malaysia

A mangrove tree on a beach with a night sky of stars above in Malaysiaimage source, Yusuf Bin Madi

The Milky Way shining above a mangrove tree at Mersing Beach, Pulau Mawar, Malaysia, an area only accessible by foot at low tide.

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Mangroves & Wildlife winner: Adaptation of Bengal Tiger, by Arijit Das, India

A Bengal tiger leaps across a creek in a mangrove forest in Indiaimage source, Arijit Das

After four days of tracking the elusive Bengal tiger, we were finally able to predict where this individual might cross a creek.

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Mangroves & Wildlife runner-up: Dancing Mudskipper, by Leo Liu, Taiwan

Three mudskippers are seen in mud in Taiwanimage source, Leo Liu

The two mudskippers were stunned during a fight for territory, by a playful dancing individual.

These amphibious fish live in mudflats and connected mangrove ecosystems.

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Mangroves & Underwater winner: Shelter, by Shane Gross, Bahamas

A green turtle swims amongst mangrove tree roots in the Bahamasimage source, Shane Gross

The green sea turtle is taking shelter in the mangroves.

Green turtles are born on beaches, grow up in the open ocean, eat seagrass and hide in mangroves and coral reefs.

Protecting these ecosystems is essential in protecting these species.

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Mangroves & Underwater runner-up: A Rare and Occasional Encounter, by Lorenzo Mittiga, Netherlands Antilles

A sargassum frogfish swims amongst mangrove trees in Netherlands Antillesimage source, Lorenzo Mittiga

A rare encounter with a sargassum frogfish out of its natural habitat.

The frogfish is normally associated with sargassum seaweed, floating and travelling on the algae for thousands of miles from the Atlantic Ocean.

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Mangroves & Underwater highly commended: Upside-down Jellyfish in the Mangrove, by Lorenzo Mittiga, Netherlands Antilles

An upside-down Jellyfish next to mangrove tree roots in Netherlands Antillesimage source, Lorenzo Mittiga

Mangrove habitats are crucial for many different sea creatures, including the fascinating and colourful upside-down jellyfish.

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Mangroves & Threats winner: Garbage on Mangroves, by Mark Kevin Badayos, Philippines

Plastic waste hangs off mangrove trees in the Philippinesimage source, Mark Kevin Badayos

The plastic problem in this part of the world is huge, and the mangroves are threatened, and slowly suffocating in plastic waste.

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Mangroves & Threats runner-up: Broken Mangrove, by Dhany Darmansyah Saragih, Indonesia

A person stands next to a mangrove tree that has been cut by local people in Indonesiaimage source, Dhany Darmansyah Saragih

Local people cut down mangrove trees for fuel and building materials for boats and houses.

Over the past three decades, Indonesia has lost 40% of its mangroves.

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Mangroves & Threats highly commended: The Reflected Threat, by Marcelo Costa Soares, Brazil

A high rise building is seen reflected in a puddle in an area of mangrove saplings in Brazilimage source, Marcelo Soares

The image in the photo shows the reflection of the biggest threat to Brazil’s largest urban mangrove swamp: real estate speculation in areas of environmental preservation.

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Mangroves & Youth winner: Coastal Phantom, by Caleb Hoover, USA

A clapper rail walks in water in a mangrove forest in the USAimage source, Caleb Hoover

A clapper rail darts for cover in a patch of coastal red mangroves.

The elusive bird has not been sighted in the area in over six years, but this one has found safety and solitude in a small stretch of mangroves on the coast of Florida.

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Mangroves & Youth runner-up: What’s Popping? by Lucas Oh Hao Xiang, Singapore

A Malayan water monitor rests on a tree stump in Singaporeimage source, Lucas Oh Hao Xiang

Mangroves are essential for reptiles, like this Malayan water monitor, to thrive in the limited coastal green spaces of the city.

All pictures are subject to copyright.

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