©Nele Ruyters

28 Images from the Mangrove Photography Awards 2021

From a forest goddess protecting honey gatherers to a tiger leaping through trees
to mangroves choking on plastic pollution; these are the intriguing winners
from this year’s Mangrove Photography Awards.

With a record number of submissions from 65 countries, the judges had a tough job selecting the winners as the 7th awards revealed more fascinating insights into the world of mangroves from all corners of the earth.

The photos are a compelling reminder of the importance of mangroves for the variety of life on our planet as amateur and professional photographers captured unique relationships and moments in the ecosystem from both above, and below, the water line.

The seventh year of the competition has been the most exciting to date with the inclusion of some special judges; Christian Ziegler, Daisy Gilardini, Mac Stone, Robert Irwin, Charlie Hamilton James and Emily Garthwaite. “It's easy to overlook the role that mangroves play in a healthy ecosystem”, says Daisy Gilardini. “Today, less than half the world’s original mangrove forest cover remains. It has never been more important to promote the conservation of these fragile ecosystems through inspiring photography”, says Robert Irwin.

Enjoy the selection of winners and highly commended photos below out of a total of 1,327 submissions and you can also see all the entries in the full mangrove gallery here.

Overall Winner
A Brave Livelihood – Musfiqur Rahman, Bangladesh
‘A Brave Livelihood’ shows a precious moment a wild honey gatherer subdues giant honeybees by smoke, deep in the mangrove forest.
Mangroves & Wildlife
South Asia

‘A Brave Livelihood’ shows a precious moment a wild honey gatherer subdues giant honeybees by smoke, deep in the mangrove forest.
“Indigenous Mowal honey gatherers, protected by Bonbibi, the forest goddess, must evade the dangers (Bengal Tigers, snakes, saltwater crocodiles and the most venomous bees) lurking in the mangroves.”

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

Mangroves & Landscape
Autumn Tree – Winner– Zohaib Anjum, UAE

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

Mangroves at Dawn – Runner Up – Melodi Roberts, USA

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

Mangroves & Landscape – Highly Commended
Mangroves & Wildlife
Adaptation of the Bengal Tiger – Winner – Arijit Das, India
Adaptation of the Bengal Tiger – Arijit Das, India

“After 4 days of tracking the elusive Bengal Tiger, we were finally able to predict where this individual might cross a creek. These big cats have adapted to life in the mangroves, and shadow through creeks and channels in search of prey.”

Dancing Mudskipper – Runner Up – Leo Liu, Singapore
Dancing Mudskipper – Leo Liu, Singapore

"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."

Mangroves & Wildlife – Highly Commended
Mangroves & People
Mangrove Propagators – Winner– Mark Kevin Badayos, Philippines
Mangrove Propagators – Mark Kevin Badayos, Philippines

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

Kayaking at Al Reem Island – Runner Up – Hooreya Al Muflahi, UAE
Kayaking at Al Reem Island – Hooray Al Muflahi, UAE

“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”

Mangroves & People – Highly Commended
Mangroves & Underwater
Shelter Winner – Shane Gross, Bahamas
Shelter – Shane Gross, Bahamas

“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 are essential to protecting these species.”

A Rare and Occasional Encounter – Runner Up – Lorenzo Mittiga, Netherlands Antilles
A Rare and Occasional Encounter – Lorenzo Mittiga, Netherlands Antilles

“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.”

Mangroves & Underwater – Highly Commended
Mangroves & Threats
Garbage on Mangroves – Winner – Mark Kevin Badayos, Philippines
Garbage on Mangroves – Mark Kevin Badayos, Philippines

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

Broken Mangrove – Runner Up – Dhany Darmansyah Saragih, Indonesia
Broken Mangrove – Dhany Darmansyah Saragih, Indonesia

“Local people cut down mangrove trees for fuel-wood and building materials for boats and houses. Over the past three decades, Indonesia has lost 40% of its mangroves.”

Mangroves & Threats – Highly Commended
Mangroves & Youth
Coastal Phantom – Winner– Caleb Hoover, USA
Coastal Phantom – Caleb Hoover, USA

“A Clapper Rail darts for cover in a patch of coastal Red Mangroves. The elusive waterbird has not been sighted in the area in over 6 years but this one has found safety and solitude in a small stretch of mangroves on the coast of Florida.”

What’s Popping? – Runner Up – Lucas Oh Hao Xiang, Singapore
What’s Popping? – Lucas Oh Hao Xiang, Singapore

“Mangroves are essential for reptiles like this Malayan Water Monitors to thrive in the limited coastal green spaces of the city.”