Reading reports of a collision between two vessels near Malaysia's Pasir Gudang Port that took place on Jan 3, 2017, led Straits Times photojournalist Lim Yaohui to be on the lookout for a potential oil spill in Singapore waters.
On the morning of Jan 5 that year, his fears came true when he saw a photo of an oil spill in the Changi beach area that his friend shared on Facebook. Though his work was to start only at 3pm that day, Mr Lim rushed to the scene, where he took photos of the incident, which were published in The Straits Times.
One of his photos - of a boat carrying personnel from the Singapore oil spill response centre travelling in water stained with oil near the Changi jetty - won him an award at the Asian Environmental Journalism Awards 2019 yesterday.
Mr Lim, 37, was one of two recipients of the Merit Award in the Environmental Photograph category.
The winner was Indian journalist Shanth Kumar S.L, with a photograph titled Unquite Flows The Ulhas, which captured water pollution arising from the discharge of sewage and industrial wastewater to the river banks.
A total of 15 journalists and media outlets were recognised for their outstanding environmental reporting at the award organised by the Singapore Environment Council.
Mr Lim, who began as a freelance photojournalist for The Straits Times in May 2012 before joining full time in January 2016, said he was surprised at getting the award.
Describing himself as someone passionate about nature and environmental issues, he said he rushed to the oil spill scene that morning knowing that time was of the essence in taking the best photos.
"I also knew that it would affect people who frequent the beach and they would need to know the possible impact of the pollution on biodiversity," he said.
Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli, who presented the awards at HortPark yesterday, said "the role of the media has never been more relevant in highlighting green issues".
"It is through journalists that we know about the dangers facing our planet and the remedial action we must take to save it," he added.
Mr Syed Muhammad Abubakar, who writes for a number of leading English dailies in Pakistan on issues such as climate change and food security, received the Environmental Journalist Award.
The Young Environmental Journalist Award went to Ms Fatima Arkin, who started her career at the award-winning Philippine Centre for Investigative Journalism.
This is the eighth year of the awards, which began in 2012 with three categories but has since grown to five categories.