Be on the lookout for our most elusive of friends…

Bushwalkers, kayakers, and fishers are being asked to keep an eye out for one of Victoria’s most elusive and loved animals, the platypus.

“Our rivers are homes to wonderful fish, assist in building a healthy environment for birds of all sorts, but when someone sees a platypus it’s a memorable event and a moment of real excitement,” said West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (WGCMA) CEO, Mr Martin Fuller.

WGCMA, works with landholders to improve waterway health by eliminating livestock intrusion, fencing waterways, and planting riverbanks with native vegetation. It also assists in managing water for the environment, where water is released from storages to boost aquatic life in rivers.

“While there are a number of indicators of the success of our work with landholders, platypus sightings are a way in which the public can assist,” added Mr Fuller.

“What we’d like people to do is download the platypusSPOT app to their smartphones. Once installed and registered it’s a simple process of snapping a photo, if you have time, or simply uploading your location, so we can see the sorts of places our platypus population is hanging out,” concluded Martin.

WGCMA’s Environmental Water Officer, Dr Stephanie Suter says it would be interesting to see where, in the waterways like the Macalister, Latrobe and Thomson, platypus is making its home.

“The Macalister, Latrobe and Thomson all receive flows as part of the Water for the Environment initiative,” said Dr Suter.

“We know that water for the environment helps with things like fish breeding and plant life as well as building resilience in rivers for dry periods when low flows are more common. These are things that we can monitor relatively easily.

“To be able to add to our picture by seeing how large and where our platypus population is would be a great extra piece of data to include,” concluded Dr Suter.

The platypus, which has recently been listed as a vulnerable species in Victoria is best seen at either early morning or at dusk.

Project Delivery Team Leader with the WGCMA, Matt Bowler has been lucky enough to have a few close encounters with platypus in recent months.

“They’re tricky things to spot as sometimes they might be mistaken for a stick floating on the surface, but whereas a stick will move with the current, a platypus will remain stationary in the water as it surfaces to breath and survey its surrounds,” said Matt.

“I had one swim quite close to me a little while back, almost through my legs while I was fishing one weekend. They are amazing little creatures and it certainly would be good to get a clearer picture of where they are,” concluded Matt.

More information about the Platypusspot app can be found at platypusspot.org or downloaded via your phone.

Platypusspot.org has been developed by Cesar Australia, an independent research and extension company in partnership with Melbourne Water and the Wimmera Catchment Management Authority.

 

Platypus
Download the platypusspot ap to help track these elusive creatures