Musfiqur Rahman has been named overall winner of this year’s Mangrove Photography Awards, for his image of a wild honey collector submitting giant bees with smoke, in Bangladesh.
Organized 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 over 1,300 entries from 65 countries.
“The indigenous Mowal honey collectors, protected by Bonbibi, the goddess of the forest, must escape the dangers (Bengal tigers and saltwater crocodiles) lurking in the mangroves,” says Rahman.
“This ancient tradition and this lasting relationship between people and the mangrove forest takes place in the Sundarbans in Bangladesh, but also in India.”
Mangroves provide important protection against climate change, with an acre (4000 m²) of mangrove forest absorbing almost the same amount of carbon dioxide as an acre of Amazon rainforest.
Forests also protect coasts from erosion as intense storms become more frequent.
“Today, less than half of the world’s original mangrove forest cover remains,” said 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 contest categories, with descriptions by the photographers.
Winner Mangroves & People: Mangrove Propagators, by Mark Kevin Badyos, Philippines
The sun is setting over part of the coast after a mangrove restoration and beach clean-up in the local community.
Finalist Mangroves & People: Kayaking on Al Reem Island, by Hooreya Al Muflahi, United Arab Emirates
Enchanted by the mangroves on a kayaking trip, we set the drone up to get a different perspective to reveal the perfectly calm blue water between the mangroves.
Highly Recommended Mangroves & People: Work in Progress, by Abhijit Chakraborty, India
As climate change and rising sea levels threaten the future of the Sundarbans, the construction of dams and mangrove beds becomes one of the last hopes of residents here.
Winner Mangroves & Landscape: Autumn Tree, by Zohaib Anjum, United Arab Emirates
Most of the mangroves along the UAE coastline are found in Abu Dhabi, acting as a “green lung” for the city.
Finalist Mangroves & Landscape: Mangroves at Dawn, by Melodi Roberts, USA
A peaceful early morning time at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in Florida.
Highly Recommended Mangroves & Landscape: Shining Stars Above Mangrove Tree, by Yusuf Bin Madi, Malaysia
The Milky Way shining above a mangrove swamp at Mersing Beach, Pulau Mawar, Malaysia, an area only accessible by foot at low tide.
Winner Mangroves & Wildlife: Adaptation of Bengal Tiger, by Arijit Das, India
After four days of stalking the elusive Bengal tiger, we were finally able to predict where this individual might cross a stream.
Mangroves & Wildlife Finalist: Dancing Mudskipper, by Leo Liu, Taiwan
The two mudskippers were knocked out in a fight for territory, by a cheerful dancing individual.
These amphibious fish live in mudflats and connected mangrove ecosystems.
Winner Mangroves & Underwater: Shelter, by Shane Gross, Bahamas
The green turtle takes refuge in the mangroves.
Green turtles are born on beaches, grow in the open sea, eat seagrass beds and hide in mangroves and coral reefs.
The protection of these ecosystems is essential to the protection of these species.
Finalist Mangroves & Underwater: A Rare and Occasional Encounter, by Lorenzo Mittiga, Netherlands Antilles
A rare encounter with a Sargassum frogfish outside its natural habitat.
Frogfish are normally associated with Sargassum algae, floating and traveling on algae thousands of kilometers from the Atlantic Ocean.
Highly Recommended Mangroves & Underwater: Upside Down Jellyfish in the Mangrove, by Lorenzo Mittiga, Netherlands Antilles
Mangrove habitats are crucial for many different sea creatures, including the fascinating and colorful upside down jellyfish.
Winner Mangroves & Threats: Garbage on Mangroves, by Mark Kevin Badyos, Philippines
The plastic problem in this part of the world is huge, and the mangroves are under threat, slowly choking under plastic waste.
Mangroves & Threats Finalist: Broken Mangrove, by Dhany Darmansyah Saragih, Indonesia
Local people cut the mangroves for fuel and building materials for boats and houses.
Over the past three decades, Indonesia has lost 40% of its mangroves.
Highly Recommended Mangroves & Threats: The Reflected Threat, by Marcelo Costa Soares, Brazil
The image in the photo shows a reflection of the greatest threat to Brazil’s largest urban mangrove: real estate speculation in the fields of environmental preservation.
Mangroves & Youth Winner: Coastal Phantom, by Caleb Hoover, USA
A clapper rail takes cover in an area of coastal red mangroves.
The elusive bird hasn’t been seen in the area for over six years, but it has found safety and solitude in a small expanse of mangroves on the Florida coast.
Mangroves & Youth finalist: what’s wrong? by Lucas Oh Hao Xiang, Singapore
Mangroves are essential for reptiles, like this Malaysian water monitor, to thrive in the city’s limited coastal green space.
All images are subject to copyright.