Award-winning photographer dedicates prize to the Arctic 30

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Feature Story - 21 October, 2013
It was a very special night for me: I received second place at the prestigious Wildlife Photojournalist of the Year.

My prize was for a series of photographs I had taken for Greenpeace International as John Novis had commissioned me to shoot the Belo Monte mega dam in the Brazilian Amazon.

© Daniel Beltra / Greenpeace

During the wonderful ceremony on October 15th at London's Natural History Museum, I could not help but think of the Arctic 30 detained in bleak Murmansk. How could I celebrate while people I know have been stuck for weeks in a Russian jail for peacefully protesting against drilling in the pristine Arctic?

Over the last two decades I've worked - as a freelance photographer – with many talented brave individuals who dedicate their time to creating a better world.

I've been very lucky to be a part of expeditions to the four corners of our globe. These adventures have been captured in my photographs and have received many accolades.

In 2012, I joined Greenpeace International as a freelance photographer to bear witness to the lowest level of summer sea ice in the history of the Arctic. It was a beautiful yet eerie experience.

© Daniel Beltra / Greenpeace

Our world is melting in front of our eyes and we don't seem to realize the urgency of this crisis. I am appalled by anyone who tries to justify drilling in such a fragile and pristine environment, especially after witnessing first hand the tragedy of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

© Daniel Beltra / Greenpeace

I could have been Denis Sinyakov, my fellow freelance photographer. He has been unjustly detained for doing his job. To honour him, I want to dedicate my Wildlife Photojournalist of the Year award to Denis, to the crew and activists of the Arctic Sunrise, to freelance videographer Kieron Bryan and especially to my friend the ship’s captain Peter Willcox.

They all deserve our respect, admiration and full support for their commitment to saving the Arctic.

We urgently need to get them released. Please sign this petition if you haven't already done so, available here.

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