August is Platypus Month and ACT Waterwatch is looking for spotters to count these much-loved iconic creatures.
Late winter is the ideal time for spotting platypus as they spend more time feeding and the males are out and about preparing for the breeding season.
“The annual survey gives us an understanding of platypus numbers in rivers and creeks in Canberra and the surrounding region. It’s not the presence or absence of platypus we’re looking at but rather the number of animals we find in a given stretch of river,” said Woo O’Reilly, Regional Waterwatch Facilitator.
“There will be 22 surveys that will take place at various locations across the region including Jerrabomberra Wetlands, the Molonglo River near Coppins Crossing and on the Murrumbidgee River at Point Hut Crossing.
“The one-hour surveys will take place in the morning and the afternoon so you don’t have to be an early riser to take part. Anyone can help with the surveys, no prior experience is necessary. Warm clothes, binoculars and a watch or phone is all that volunteers are required to bring on the day. Around eight volunteers are needed per survey.
Ms O’Reilly said the platypus is a shy animal so is often thought to only live in remote areas. In reality though, they can be found in many rivers and creeks in the region.
“They have even been spotted in Lake Burley Griffin,” Ms O’Reilly said.
“This is why we must be mindful of what we put into our ACT waterways and prohibit the use of ‘opera style’ yabby traps which can trap and suffocate platypuses.”
If you’re interested in helping out with the surveys, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, if you spot a platypus, report the sighting to the same email address. Please include the time, date, location and any notes about behaviour and habitat.
For those who can’t make the surveys, but who would like to see a platypus, Waterwatch is also hosting a free walk from 7am to 8am on Sunday 11 August starting from the Isabella Street footbridge in Queanbeyan. No RSVP is necessary.
Use and possession of enclosed style traps in all ACT waters, which kill native wildlife including platypuses, will be prohibited in proposed changes to the ACT’s Fisheries Act.
More information about survey times and the various monitoring programs Waterwatch conduct can be found on their website www.act.waterwatch.org.au.
Waterwatch is funded by ACT Government and Icon Water.
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Section: ACT Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate | Media Releases
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