By Lucy Calderón
The Mesoamerican Reef Fund (MAR Fund) organized the photography contest “Life in the MAR” to celebrate the International Year of the Reef 2018 (IYOR 2018) and thus engage more people to learn about and support the conservation of these valuable ecosystems.
Participants from the four countries that share the Mesoamerican Reef System (MAR): Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras, competed. Thirty-four photographs were submitted. A jury selected the 13 finalists that will be included in the MAR Fund 2019 calendar. The public voted to choose the first three places.
First place: Francisco David Penados Saravia, Guatemala
For Francisco, a dive master, winning the first place has a special meaning because he is expecting his first child, to whom he owes the fortune of having been the winner. “As the saying goes, babies bring bread under their arm,” he added.
“The reef is the heart of the marine world and underwater photography is one of my passions,” said Francisco enthusiastically at the award ceremony.
Claudio González and Patricia Cabrera, technical coordinator and administrative coordinator of the MAR Fund, respectively, awarded Francisco the prize: a GoPro Hero5 camera, a first place certificate and a check for US$200.
If you would like to watch the first place award presentation click here.
Second place: Henry Allan Brown, Belize
“It was a pleasure to participate in this photo contest. I think there should be more contests like it to encourage young people to come out and have contact with the environment, and take pictures of how it looks through their eyes. In addition, the prizes were very attractive,” said Henry Allan Brown of Belize, who obtained second place in this contest.
“I am saving money to buy an underwater camera so the US$300 prize will help me greatly to reach my goal. My only suggestion is to make the voting process simpler next time”, Henry added.
Third place: Linda Searle, Belize
The winner of the third place, also from Belize, said that she submitted the photo of a green sea turtle taking fresh air because sea turtles are “the great ocean migrants” and are excellent worldwide representatives of marine conservation efforts.
According to Linda, every time she can, she tries to raise awareness about the continued conservation of sea turtles, as they are important emblematic species and a valuable asset to demonstrate the biodiversity of the Belize Barrier Reef and the entire Mesoamerican Reef System.
Linda added that, with the photo that she participated with, she wanted to show that each breath represents each individual effort towards ocean conservation and knowing how charismatic sea turtles are, she also wanted to capture the attention of the judges. That is why she was pleased to know that Green up for Air was selected as a finalist for the calendar, but she did not imagine how difficult it would be to work to get enough votes to place it among the first three places. She thanks all her family, friends, colleagues and friends of her friends for voting for her photo. “The prize money will be used by ECOMAR for the conservation of sea turtles in Belize and I will change the name of the photo to “Every breath I take!” she said.
To learn more about the photography contest, the gallery of participating photos and winners, click here.