Victor Hugo Luja Molina was named the overall winner of this year’s Mangrove Photography Awards for his picture of a jaguar woman in an intimate moment with her boy in a mangrove forest in Mexico.

Image rightsVictor Hugo Luja MolinaThe competition, run by the Mangrove Action Project and already in its sixth year, aims to highlight the relationships between wildlife, coastal communities and mangrove forests, as well as the fragility of these unique ecosystems both above and below the waterline.

The winning picture of Luja Molina, Being a mother again, was selected from more than 1,000 entries from almost 70 countries.

“I love this picture because it shows the mangrove roots, the mangrove forest in detail and at night,” says Luja Molina.

“This is one of the few photos that exist of jaguars in mangrove ecosystems.

“After two years of failed attempts with the camera trap – blurry images, partial shots and lost cameras – Janis, a mangrove jaguar resident, finally gave us a great moment with one of her cubs.

“The mangrove ecosystem in western Mexico is facing major conservation problems with so many land-use changes, including illegal shrimp farming.”

Mangroves are an important protection against climate change. One hectare (4,000 m²) of mangrove forest absorbs almost the same amount of carbon dioxide as one hectare of Amazon rainforest.

The forests also protect the coasts from erosion as violent storms are more common.

Judge Steve Winter says, “Mangroves are such an important part of the ecosystem that they are the nursery for many aquatic species.

“The health of these ecosystems is vital to human and animal health.”

Here you will find a selection of the winning pictures from five competition categories with descriptions of the photographers.

Mangroves & Wildlife Winner: Welcome Grin from Jenny Stock, Cuba

Image rightsJenny Stock

A beautiful and powerful animal, an American crocodile, seen in his home, the mangroves of Jardines de la Reina, Cuba.

This was my first encounter with a crocodile in the water.

And it was utterly exhilarating.

Being up-close with such a wild and powerful animal would make your heart beat faster.

Second place in Mangroves & Wildlife: Lemon Pups, by Anita Kainrath Anita Kainrath, Bahamas

Image rightsAnita Kainrath

Juvenile lemon sharks in Bimini, Bahamas who use mangrove-fringed lagoons and creeks as nurseries.

Mangroves & Communities Winner: Coastal Community, by Morgan Bennett-Smith, Papua New Guinea

Image rightsMorgan Bennett-Smith

Local boys gather in front of a small mangrove-associated outcrop along the coast of Papua New Guinea.

Here, coastal ecosystems are dependent on a community-based protection and protection system.

Local people value their ecosystems and protect them.

Second place in mangroves and communities: environmental balance on the Bijagos Islands, by Ricci Shryock, Guinea-Bissau

Image rightsRicci Shryock

A portrait of Ndira and Teresa from the Bijagos community in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa, who are part of a group of women who wade through the water between the mangroves at low tide to look for oysters.

The oysters are then sold or sometimes used in traditional ceremonies.

Mangroves & Landscapes Winner: The Dancing Mangroves by Harry Pieters, Indonesia

Image rightsHarry Pieters

A unique mangrove sunset scene along Walakiri Beach in East Sumba, Indonesia, where the trees sway across a strip of white sand.

Second place in Mangroves & Landscapes: Mangroves from the Air, by Chris Scarffe, Madagascar

Image rightsChris Scarffe

The mangroves and meandering rivers of northwest Madagascar from the air in the early morning light with the dramatic volcanic island of Nosy Komba in the background.

Mangroves & Threats Winner: Mangroves & Bulldozers, by Matthew Potenski, Bahamas

Image rightsMatthew D Potenski

I took this split shot of a sand skewer built over a shallow lagoon.

The next day the mangrove sprout pictured was buried under piles of sand.

This development did not have a building permit and shows how projects without legal authority can advance and cause damage.

This image always seems to evoke a strong emotional response in people.

Runner-up in Mangroves and Threats: The Real Man Against Game, aka Live and Let Live, by Vidyasagar Hariharan, India

Image rightsVidyasagar Hariharan

The remaining mangroves in Mumbai are threatened.

Here, flamingos feed in a wetland mirrored by buildings – a grim testimony to the struggle and habitat loss these birds are exposed to.

Mangrove & Conservation Winner: Sea of ​​Pink, from Pratik Chorge, India

Image rightsPratik Chorge

With reduced human activity that year, a record number of flamingos made their way to Mumbai, India.

Talawe Wetlands got an extra pink spectacle after microscopic algae and bacteria mixed with the rising humidity and turned parts of the water pink.

Second place in Mangrove & Conservation: Rangers and Fishermen on Pate Island, from Roshni Lodhia, Kenya

Image rightsRoshni Lodhia

Rangers on Pate Island, Kenya, are tasked with monitoring the mangrove areas for illegal mangrove mining.

Highly recommended: The Phantom of the Mangroves of Soham Bhattacharyya, India

Image rightsSoham Bhattacharyya

The tiger is the mangrove’s greatest secret.

The villagers consider the tigers a “god” because they protect the jungle from all human threats.

Highly recommended: Destroyed Habitat, by Shane Gross, USA

Image rightsShane Gross

In 2017, Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit Puerto Rico just two weeks apart.

Large swaths of mangroves near Cabo Rojo were killed and have not recovered three years later.

Highly recommended: Gen M for Mangroves, by Victor Fidelis Sentosa, Indonesia

Image rightsSentosa is a real winner

Today’s youth need to be more aware of the mangrove ecosystem and its function.

Campaigns and socialization must also go hand in hand with measures for a better future.

Highly praised: left or right, where should we move forward? From Srikanth Mannepuri, India

Image rightsSrikanth Mannepuri

The conversion of mangrove forests into commercial aquaculture ponds is the greatest threat to mangroves.

Highly recommended: Sona and oysters in the mangroves, by Ricci Shryock, Guinea-Bissau

Image rightsRicci Shryock

Sona Sedja, 29, washes the collected oysters before they are brought to market.

Sedja uses the income to feed herself and her two children.

Highly recommended: Sponges in the Mangrove, by Alvaro Herrero Lopez-Beltran, Indonesia

Image rightsAlvaro Herrero Lopez-Beltran

Highly recommended: Mangrove Labyrinth by Janos Leo G Andanar, Philippines

Image rightsJanos Leo G. Andanar

A tourist boat in the middle of the mangrove in Siargao Island, Philippines.

Tourists not only enjoy surfing the island’s waves, but also enjoy the vast mangrove forest with clear water that they can explore.

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