Congratulations to the 2021 CEFF International Environmental Photography Contest Winners

Grand Prize Winner

Florida Manatee – ©David Fleetham

This endangered Florida manatee, Trichechus manatus latirostris, was photographed in early December at the Three Sisters Spring part of the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge. December is a bit early, but we lucked out when a cold bit of weather moved down from the north. The manatees access the warm spring water during cold periods to avoid debilitating exposure which can ultimately lead to death in extreme cases.  A U.S. Geological Survey known as the Sirenia Project has been tracking manatees in the Crystal River area with GPS tags since 2006, and most of the manatee have visited Three Sisters Springs multiple times to meet their thermoregulatory needs. Since this photo was taken access to the spring has been limited when the outside gulf temperature dips below 63ºF (17ºC) to allow the animals to utilize the area without people in the water with them. Check with the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge website or call to avoid disappointment if you are planning to visit the area. I would also suggest that you arrange for a boat and guide and request as early a departure as possible. We got started in the dark at 6:30AM. You will beat the crowds and have the clearest water in the first hours of the day.


Youth Prize Winner


Phoenix – ©Saptarshi Gayen

For the last 4-5 years I have seen that, at the end of every winter, farmers of this huge grassland generally burn the grass and reeds to clean the land for upcoming crops. When the fire spreads across the land, small insects start coming out. Then the brave Black Drongo starts capitalising on such a moment by eating them and flying above the live fire. The birds usually sit on a branch fearlessly and watch the movements of the insects as the fire spreads into a new area, then it flies close to the fire for the catch. This is a full-frame image, and the calmness of the Drongo reminds me of the Roman Emperor Nero.


People’s Choice Prize Winner

Inquisitive – ©Libby Ye

Like the lizard, we are constantly searching for knowledge, for truth, for satisfaction of our insatiable curiosity.  Our world is wondrous, yet it has been contaminated and scarred by us.  It is our duty to remember that alongside the development of our materialistic world, we are not depriving organisms of their home.  We must remember to take a step back, to appreciate and to respect the beauty of our environment.

***The People’s Choice Award was selected by public voting.


Landscape Winner


Galactic Flowers – ©Marcio Esteves Cabral

This is one of the exotic wildflowers of the Cerrado Biome, the most biodiverse savanna in the world. The Cerrado is also the birthplace of the waters of Central South America, most rivers in Brazil are born in the Cerrado, including several rivers in the Amazon region. The Cerrado is being devastated and currently, more than half of its vegetation has been transformed into soybean and livestock plantations. Unlike the Amazon Forest, there are few protected areas in the Cerrado. National reserves and parks represent less than 4% of their total area, so the Cerrado is being deforested on a much larger scale than the Amazon. The destruction of the Cerrado is a major threat to the future water supply and loss of biodiversity.


Wildlife Winner


Giant in the Deep – ©Katy Laveck Foster

A young male whale shark glides through the deep water off the northern coast of West Papua.  This animal is one of a handful of young males that regularly come to Cenderwashi bay to eat the small fish that the fisherman working on offshore platforms toss their way.


Indigenous Cultures Winner


Two Girls Sand Dune – ©Chin Leong Teo

Mui Ne is a seaside fishing town located in southern Vietnam. It is well known for hosting a large swathe of sand dune that is located just by the beach. Before there were roads and motor vehicles, residents of Mui Ne often have to transverse this sand dune on foot, carrying farm produce or fish. This picture is a reminder of a romantic past where Vietnamese ladies in their traditional “Ao Dai” garments would carry farm produce in straw baskets, walking across the dunes leaving nothing but beautiful footprints in the sand. This was a past where Mui Ne residents live in harmony with nature, and where there was no pollution, nor adverse environmental impact from over-tourism.


Patterns & Abstracts Winner


Fishing Nets in the Wind – ©Chin Leong Teo

Xiapu is a County in Fujian Province, China that lies along a coast famous for the production of seafood. Many Xiapu residents are involved in the fishing trade. This is a photo of fishing nets flying in the air, as a fisherman rows upstream on a river.


Environmental Impact Winner


Point of No Return – ©Joao Galamba

A 13-meter whale entered, disoriented, in the estuary of river Vouga, in Aveiro, Portugal, and got stuck in a sand bank. The efforts of the fishermen and of the authorities to keep it alive were not enough and ended up dying. The reason that led the whale to make such a journey is still unknown, but the lack of food due to intensive fishing and the noise of the boats may have contributed to this outcome.


2021 CEFF Photography Gallery

TOP 50 Finalists including Exhibition Selections

Click on an image to show full size and to allow scrolling. Titles with an * indicate photos included in the exhibition.

All photographs are owned and copyrighted by each photographer. No use of any kind is authorized without the express written consent of the owner of the photograph. For contact information for any of the photographers, please email [email protected]
The image with the highest number of public votes in each category will be displayed on the People’s Choice wall in the exhibition. To see the People’s Choice images, please visit and scroll to the bottom of that page. 
Be sure to check out the display of winning images in Downtown Denver as a part of Night Lights Denver during the month of February. For more information, please visit

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