A curious crocodile, scientists restoring lost balances, a crab fishing in a cave, and a water monitor navigating plastic waste are some of the intriguing winners from this year’s Mangrove Photography Awards
The winners of the Mangrove Photography Awards 2022, run by the Mangrove Action Project, have been announced. Now in its 8th year, more than 2,000 images were submitted from 68 countries, revealing fascinating insights into the world of mangroves, while challenging us to consider both our place in the natural world and our responsibility to protect it.
Tanya Houppermans has been crowned Mangrove Photographer of the Year with her image ‘Guardian of the Mangroves’, showing a close-up portrait of an American crocodile surrounded by mangroves at Jardines de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen) in Cuba.
A total of six categories were available for this year’s contest, including Mangroves and Humans, Mangroves and Landscape, Mangroves and Underwater, Mangroves and Conservation, Mangroves and Wildlife, and Mangroves and Stories (a portfolio category), plus Young Mangrove Photographer of the Year category for photographers under the age of 24.
An international panel of judges including Beverly Joubert, Bertie Gregory, Octavio Aburto, Nadia Aly and Dhritiman Mukherjee – chose the winning entries from a total of 2,188 submissions.
The photos are a compelling reminder of the importance of mangroves for the diversity of life across the world’s coastlines, as photographers captured unique relationships and moments from mangrove ecosystems both above and below the water line.
‘The images from this year captivated our imagination… giving us hope and illuminating a positive future for mangrove ecosystems,’ said judge Octavio Aburto. ‘Today, less than half the world’s original mangrove forest cover remains, and it has never been more important to promote the conservation of these fragile ecosystems.’
‘The Mangrove Photography Awards is bringing a much-needed light onto the conservation of the world’s mangroves.’ said Beverly Joubert.
Winner: Mangrove Photographer of the Year
Guardian of the Mangroves – Tanya Houppermans, Cuba
‘Guardian of the Mangroves’ captures an intimate moment when a curious American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) swam right up to Tanya Houppermans, and allowed her into its world at Jardines De La Reina (Gardens of the Queen).
Jardines De La Reina is an archipelago off the coast of Cuba, has been strictly protected since 1996, and is one of the most untouched marine ecosystems in the world.
‘The healthy population of American crocodiles is down to the pristine condition of the mangroves and I wanted to capture close-ups of this gentle giant in its natural habitat. I hope this image can illustrate that protecting areas like this is so critical.’
Winner: Young Mangrove Photographer of the Year
Healthy Ecosystem – Fakhrizal Setiawan, Indonesia
Symbiotic links between coastal ecosystems, ‘college students from North Sulawesi undertake a zonation exercise, discovering the close relationships between mangroves, coral reefs and seagrasses.’
Category winner: Mangroves and Humans
‘Honey Hunters’ – Muhammad Mostafigur Rahman
‘Honey Hunters’ collect wild honey deep in the mangroves of the Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest in the world. This ancient traditional event takes place every year during March and April, following the raw rhythms of nature.
This extraordinary relationship between the Moulis honey hunters and the mangrove forest is unique and in danger of disappearing. Both recent human development in the area and the climate crisis, in particular the rise in sea levels, are threatening the ecology of the Sundarbans in West Bengal and with it, the way of life of the Moulis people.
Category winner: Mangroves & Landscape
Walakiri Dancing Trees – Loïc Dupuis, Indonesia
The sun rises along the peaceful beaches of East Sumba in Indonesia. ‘I wanted to capture the beauty and fragility of this unique wonder. We need to protect and visit places like this with great care, so future generations can also enjoy them.’
Category winner: Mangroves & Wildlife
Take Off – Jayakumar MN, UAE
A greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) takes off on a migration journey across Asia, and will most likely return to the same coastal wetlands in the winter months. ‘It was feeding with its head in the water, before flying off into the morning light.’
Category winner: Mangroves & Underwater
Blue Crab – Martin Broen, Mexico
The mysteries of a rarely seen natural environment. A blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) fishing in a unique transition between fresh and saltwater in the Mexican cenotes. ‘During an exploration dive through the dark flooded caves, I came across this proudly standing crab silhouetted against the mangrove roots above.’
Category winner: Mangroves & Conservation
New Normal – Kei Miyamoto, Indonesia
A water monitor lizard (Varanus salvator) struggles along the plastic-filled forest floor foraging for food. ‘More and more plastic fills our mangrove forests and it’s affecting our wildlife that calls it home.’
Category winner: Mangroves & Stories
Mangrove Restoration Project in Bonaire – Lorenzo Mittiga, Netherlands Antilles
‘Local volunteers work hard in the mud trying to re-establish the water flow in the mangrove ecosystem; here by cutting bricks of solidified mud and roots. If hydrology and water circulation become cut off, it becomes a major threat to the habitat.’
For the complete list of winning entries and runners-up, visit the complete gallery on the Mangrove Photography Awards website.