Canberrans are encouraged to pick up a pair of binoculars and join the Waterwatch volunteers to monitor the population status of platypus in the ACT.
Minister for the Environment Rebecca Vassarotti said late winter is the ideal time for spotting these much-loved mammals, with the data collected by citizen-scientists helping researchers understand the population status of these iconic native animals.
“As part of Platypus Month, Upper Murrumbidgee Waterwatch uses volunteers to help with a number of surveys over August, as well as sending in incidental sightings, to give us a better understanding of platypus numbers in the rivers and creeks in the ACT region,” Minister Vassarotti said.
“Platypus spend more time feeding and the males are out preparing for the breeding season, meaning they are much easier to spot this time of year.
“There will be 34 surveys conducted in August. The one-hour surveys will take place at both dawn and dusk, so there are options for early risers and late starters alike.
“Nationally, platypus sightings have drastically dropped over the past three decades, causing the platypus to be officially listed as ‘near threatened’ in Australia since 2016. Thankfully, here in the ACT, our population of platypus seems to be returning after dry conditions in the last couple of years, with an increase of detected platypus growing from 11 in 2019 to 31 in 2020.
“With almost 300 spots to fill on the surveys, this work could not be done without volunteers. These citizen scientists not only collect valuable data, but they also become great champions who can help spot platypus outside the survey times. They also become aware of the issues affecting platypus populations more generally and tell others in the community about it.”
Find out how you can get involved in Platypus Month on the Waterwatch website.
As stated by Waterwatch Regional Facilitator, Woo O’Reilly:
“This is our 8th annual Platypus Month and the enthusiasm in the community continues to grow. We had 300 volunteers participate in 2020 and we are on track again this year to fill all the required places on our surveys.
“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 ACT region. They even get spotted in Lake Burley Griffin.
“This year, Waterwatch also has a brand new Platy and Ratty Portal on their website where you can report incidental sightings of platypus and Rakali (also known as water rats) at any time of the year. If you spot a platypus, make sure to register it on the on the new portal on our website. Make sure to note the date, time, location and number of platypus. Photos are always welcome too!”