Lord of the Mangrove by Felipe Jácome.


  • Embassy of Ecuador 2535 15th Street Northwest Washington, DC, 20009 United States
Felipe Jacome

Felipe Jacome

The northwestern corner of Ecuador is home to the tallest mangrove trees in the world. Amidst the trees´ towering, almost fantastical, roots, people of nearby Afro-Ecuadorian communities gather black shells as their form of livelihood. In local parlance shell pickers are known as concheros. Concheros start young. Children as young as 10 years old are expected to pick shells to contribute to their families’ income. Children make good shell-pickers because they are agile and light, allowing them to navigate around the infinite spider web of mangrove roots. Picking shells is a tremendously arduous task. Everyday concheros trudge through the knee-deep mud and endure the inclement environment of the forest to discover small crevasses within the buried roots. These environmental portraits explore the relationship between childhood, manual labor, and this unique ecosystem.