Mar 27

The winners have been announced for the HSBC Water Programme Photography Competition, with a photo of a water drop stealing the top prize. Wildscreen has helped HSBC to run their internal photography competition to promote the importance of the HSBC Water Programme, which will benefit communities in need and provide information for more efficient management of vital freshwater resources.

Following an entertaining and informative masterclass from one of the world’s leading wildlife photographers, Mark Carwardine, over 1,000 entries were submitted. It was great to see so many beautiful entries from all over the world, and the tough job of picking the finalists and winners fell to our expert judging panel: Rosamund Kidman Cox (WildPhotos Producer, editor and writer), Helen Gilks (Managing Director, Nature Picture Library and Blue Green Pictures) and Mark Carwardine (Wildlife Photographer and Zoologist).

Entrants were encouraged to enter their images into one of five categories. Below, you can find the winners from each category, along with comments from Rosamund Kidman Cox.

 

Winner of Creative Visions of Water and Overall Winner

Image by Khalyd El Hamoumy

Image by Khalyd El Hamoumy

Crystal Droplet

This is a choreographed image of a water droplet, impacting on the surface of the water and ‘bouncing’ back up. No doubt the photographer would have rehearsed this many times, until everything was just right: the distance between the drop of water and bowl, the colour of the background to be reflected off the water, the position of the speedlight and the amount of light coming from it. It’s a simple image of a perfect sphere acting as a crystal lens, and all the more successful for capturing the essence of water.

 

Winner of People and Water

Image by Prasad Peddireddy

Image by Prasad Peddireddy

The power of water

The tiny gathering of people stand dwarfed by the vast canyon and the giant cascade of water formed as the River Sharavathi plunges 250 metres down into the gorge – a truly magnificent image. The Jog Falls are India’s second-highest falls, in the heart of the Western Ghats – a great escarpment that is a World Heritage Site and a biological hotspot.

 

Winner of Freshwater Landscapes

Image by Isuru Hettiarachchi

Image by Isuru Hettiarachchi

Sunset Falls

A curtain of water and spray filter the setting sun as it touches the horizon, photographed from behind Iceland’s Seljalandsfoss waterfall as it pours off the escarpment. Beyond, the river can be seen cutting through the landscape as it travels to the sea. It’s an imaginative and atmospheric picture of a much-photographed Icelandic natural wonder.

 

Winner of Freshwater Life

Image by Marissa Tabbada

Image by Marissa Tabbada

Gull on a Golden Pond

It’s a simple, serene scene, taken on a beautiful autumn day. A black-headed gull, already in winter plumage, rests on a Central London pond. The low afternoon light has picked out the ripples on the water surface, reflecting the golden colour of autumn leaves.

 

Winner of Water in Black and White

Image by Oi Yan Ko

Image by Oi Yan Ko

Water Run

The subject is a moorhen, running on water as it prepares to take off on a pond in Hong Kong’s Nam Sang Wai wetland park, an area that was once dominated by fish farms and is now an important area for waterbirds. But the picture is not so much a portrait of a bird as a graphic composition – a trajectory splash pattern against mirror-smooth water, topped by a fringe-frame of reflected vegetation.

View a gallery of the finalists’ images on the Water Hub website: http://www.thewaterhub.org/gallery/photography-competition

Phoebe Shaw Stewart, Text Author

Mar 22

Water is essential to life on Earth. However, our insatiable demand is putting water, one of our most precious natural resources, at risk.

The enormous growth in the human population over recent decades is placing an enormous strain on the world’s freshwater reserves, with our global consumption of water for food production, energy, industrial and domestic uses beginning to reach what are thought to be unsustainable levels. Similarly, rapid urbanisation, pollution and climate change are all exacerbating the problem, further threatening one of the world’s most vital resources.

World Water Day 2014

To draw attention to the importance of freshwater and the need for sustainable management of the world’s freshwater resources, the United Nations (UN) has designated 22 March ‘World Water Day’.

Held annually, World Water Day gives people all around the globe the opportunity to take action to raise awareness of water issues and improve the management of the world’s water resources. In 2014, World Water Day is focusing on the connection between water and energy.

Nicknamed ‘the leaper’, the Atlantic salmon has the spectacular ability to clear seemingly impossible obstacles. When journeying back to its birthplace in order to spawn, the Atlantic salmon is able to leap vertical distances of up to an incredible four metres!

Though not a water-dwelling species, the plumed basilisk, a lizard from Central America, has the amazing ability to run on water! When threatened, it can drop down onto water and sprint, upright, over the surface of the water. It is able to achieve this due to its long toes, which considerably increase the surface area of its back feet.

Find out more about World Water Day and discover events happening near you.

Mar 22

World Water Day logo

Earth’s most precious resource?

Water is essential to life on Earth. However, our insatiable demand is putting water, one of our most precious natural resources, at risk.

The enormous growth in the human population over recent decades is placing a huge strain on the world’s freshwater reserves, with our global consumption of water for food production, energy, industrial and domestic uses beginning to reach what are thought to be unsustainable levels. Similarly, rapid urbanisation, pollution and climate change are all exacerbating the problem, further threatening one of the world’s most vital resources.

World Water Day 2013

To draw attention to the importance of freshwater and the need for sustainable management of the world’s freshwater resources, the United Nations (UN) has designated 22 March ‘World Water Day’.

Held annually, World Water Day gives people all around the world the opportunity to take action to raise awareness on water issues and improve the management of the world’s water resources. In 2013, in reflection of the International Year of Water Cooperation, World Water Day is also dedicated to the theme of cooperation around water.

See how you can get involved!

Great crested grebe courtship display

To celebrate International Year of Water Cooperation, World Water Day is also dedicated to the theme of cooperation around water. This courting great crested grebe pair have clearly got the hang of the importance of sharing our finite freshwater resources!

Calling all budding young filmmakers in the UK!

Celebrate World Water Day at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust with the launch of ‘Hot Water’, a competition with a mission: Can young people create a film that will transform our water-wasting ways?

To kick things off on World Water Day, Cool It Schools is launching ‘Hot Water’. Young people from all over the UK are invited to create an inspirational, behaviour-changing film of TV advert length (no more than 50 seconds) that will aim to help put a stop to our bad water habits once and for all.

Find out more about the ‘Hot Water’ competition and see how you can enter.

Sep 30

World Rivers Day is an annual global celebration of the world’s waterways, observed on the last Sunday in September. Established in 2005 by the internationally renowned river conservationist Mark Angelo, World Rivers Day highlights the global importance of rivers and aims to increase public awareness and encourage greater stewardship of rivers around the world.

River running through the Northwoods, Wisconsin

River running through the Northwoods, Wisconsin

Celebrating World Rivers Day

Millions of people in more than 60 countries celebrate World Rivers Day. Here at ARKive, we’ve joined in by talking to Kevin Smith, a Programme Officer with the IUCN Freshwater Biodiversity Unit, to find out more about the importance of rivers and the main issues they face.

‘Ribbons of life’

Rivers underpin many freshwater ecosystems and play a critical role in sustaining the lives of thousands of different species and habitats worldwide. Despite their importance, rivers and their associated freshwater ecosystems are actually extremely rare. Only 3% of the world’s water is fresh water, and freshwater ecosystems account for less than 1% of the planet’s total surface area.

Riverine habitat

Riverine habitat

According to Kevin, “Rivers – and freshwater habitats in general – are real hotspots of biodiversity. They may only cover 1% of the Earth’s surface, but they support almost 10% of the world’s known species. These ribbons of life also provide livelihoods and economic benefits to billions of people across the world through what are known as ‘ecosystem services’ such as fisheries, water filtration or even tourism.”

Rivers shape the landscape; act as drainage channels; and transport fresh water and nutrients to lakes, wetlands and other freshwater habitats before eventually flowing out to sea. They provide the stage for some of nature’s most spectacular events, such as the annual migration of salmon from the sea to their spawning grounds upstream. Rivers, and the fresh water they contain, are also vital to human wellbeing, providing the water we drink, as well as sources of food, recreation and energy.

Sockeye salmon jumping up waterfall to spawn

Sockeye salmon jumping up waterfall to spawn

Rivers in danger

Many of the world’s rivers are also in danger, often due to human development, pollution and climate change.

Rivers and other freshwater habitats are among the most threatened on the planet. Rivers are highly interconnected systems that can transport threats to biodiversity, such as pollution or invasive species, long distances. The species that inhabit rivers also have limited dispersal ability as they can rarely escape onto land to avoid such threats,” says Kevin.

Fewer than 70 of the world’s 177 longest rivers remain free of man-made obstructions, such as dams and hydroelectric power plants.

Rivers have also been heavily modified, and have been used and viewed as a public resource (for water or waste dispersal) to be exploited for many years,” explains Kevin. “Because of this, many threats exist to rivers and their biodiversity, from agricultural and industrial pollution, excessive water extraction and dams, to the introduction of non-native and invasive species and the overharvesting of biodiversity.

Spotlight on: the world’s longest rivers

As it’s World Rivers Day, we’ve taken the opportunity to take a look at four of the world’s longest rivers and highlight some of the amazing species that inhabit them, as well as the threats that these magnificent rivers face.

Mississippi River3,902 miles (6,275 kilometres)

 

Pair of young North American river otters on log

Pair of young North American river otters on log

The largest river in North America, the Mississippi gets its name from the Native American Chippewa tribe’s words ‘mici zibi’, meaning ‘great river’. The Mississippi River provides food and shelter for hundreds of different species, from freshwater fish to mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects and birds, including the 8,000,000 ducks, geese, swans and wading birds that use the river as a flyway.

The upper Mississippi region is home to one of the largest populations of nesting bald eagles in the United States, while the river also provides important habitat for the playful North American river otter. The otter was once common along the Mississippi, but unregulated trapping and habitat loss around a hundred years ago pushed this species towards the brink of extinction. Fortunately, improvements in water quality, trapping regulations and reintroduction efforts in the 1980s have enabled the otter population to grow and recover in recent years.

Yangtze – 3,917 miles (6,300 kilometres)

Baiji at waters' surface

Baiji at waters' surface

The Yangtze is the world’s third longest river, rising in west-central China and flowing across the Tibetan Plateau until it reaches the East China Sea near Shanghai.

The Yangtze River Basin has remarkably high levels of biodiversity and its waters are home to some amazing aquatic creatures, including the Yangtze finless porpoise and the baiji, the rarest cetacean in existence. The forests of the upper Yangtze are the only place where the giant panda can be found in the wild, while the central parts of the river and its lakes are known to be important for many migratory bird species, including an estimated 95% of the world’s Siberian crane population.

The Yangtze River Basin itself is faced with enormous environmental challenges and is being placed under severe strain as a result of growing pressures from the region’s expanding population and rapid economic development. The impacts of climate change, agriculture, pollution and infrastructure development are having hugely detrimental effects on the river’s species, habitats and the wider ecosystem.

Amazon – 3,980 miles (6,400 kilometres)

Amazonian manatee swimming beneath aquatic vegetation

Amazonian manatee swimming beneath aquatic vegetation

The world’s largest river by volume, and considered by many to be the longest river in the world, the Amazon begins in Peru and flows through Brazil where it reaches the Atlantic Ocean.

The drainage basin of the Amazon River supports the magnificent Amazon rainforest, home to an incredible diversity of animals and plants, from the curious Amazonian manatee to an array of colourful birds and insects, including over 4,000 species of butterfly. Despite its exceptional biodiversity, the Amazon River, as well as much of the surrounding rainforest, is under threat. The river itself is faced with a number of issues, including the construction of dams in areas of high conservation value.

Nile - 4,135 miles (6,650 kilometres)

Nile crocodile close-up

Nile crocodile close-up

Traditionally considered to be the longest river in the world, the Nile flows north through eastern Africa to where it empties into the Mediterranean Sea. The name of this imposing river is derived from the Greek word ‘neilos’, which means ‘river valley’.

As well as supporting a large number of species in its waters and along its banks, the Nile is depended on by more than 300 million people for their water supply and the irrigation of seasonal crops. Reptiles, such as the Nile crocodile, flourish in the waters of the Nile, while fish, birds and mammals also rely on the river as a source of food and water.

Find out more about World Rivers Day.

Learn more about the IUCN Freshwater Biodiversity Unit.

Helen Roddis, ARKive Education Officer

 

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