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Octavio Aburto
2017 Artist-in-Exploration

Octavio Aburto is a professional photographer and assistant professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, CA.  His research and photography have focused on marine reserves and commercially exploited marine species in Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica, Ecuador and the United States. 

For his 2017 Artist-in-Exploration award, “MANGROVES: THE SKIN OF OUR COASTS,” Octavio will conduct four expeditions to four different mangrove forests located in the Tropical Eastern Pacific Ocean. 

Mangrove forests are quickly disappearing. We have lost nearly 50% in the last half-century.  Yet they are economically vital to local populations and in the fight for climate balance, mangrove forests store more carbon per acre than any other tropical forests.

Les Guthman has chaired the selection committee for the past four years. This year’s committee included Damien LeLoup, Jon Bowermaster, Moki Kokoris and Bob Hemm.

The Artist-in-Exploration Award is a $25,000 grant sponsored by Rolex.  The previous recipients were Rebecca Reeve, who photographed the pristine Alejandro Humboldt National Park and the Jardines de la Reina  marine sanctuary in Cuba; Tanya Chaly, who documented in ink and watercolors, the rebirth of fauna in Mozambique's Gorongosa National Park, after decades of civil war; and Carlton Ward Jr., who photographed his expedition up the western Florida Wildlife Corridor.  Each artist presented both Rolex and the Explorers Club with bound portfolios of the work created under their grants.