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Thursday, January 28, 2021
Ian Cubitts
Ian Cubitts

Waterwatch seeks Platypus survey volunteers

August is Platypus Month – and Waterwatch is inviting Canberrans to join the Platypus Month annual survey to count the elusive monotreme in local waterways.

Late winter is the ideal time for spotting platypus as they spend more time feeding and the males are out preparing for the breeding season.

ACT Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Mick Gentleman, said the Platypus Month annual survey informs land managers and researchers about the population status of these iconic native animals.

The survey continues to grow in popularity every year. Last year over 170 volunteers participated in surveys at 22 sites across the region. This year, the number of sites has been increased to 34, including Jerrabomberra Wetlands, the Molonglo River near Coppins Crossing, and the Murrumbidgee River at Point Hut Crossing.

Mr Gentlemen said everyone is welcome to help and there’s no prior experience required.

“The one-hour surveys take place in mornings and afternoons, so you don’t need to be an early riser to take part. Warm clothes, binoculars and a watch or phone is all that volunteers are required to bring on the day.”

According to Woo O’Reilly, regional Waterwatch facilitator, “these surveys give 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,” Ms O’Reilly said.

“We’ve been able to expand the number of survey sites this year to include more of these locations thanks to the large amount of volunteer support we continue to get from the community.”

Free platypus walk in Queanbeyan

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 9 August starting from the Isabella Street footbridge in Queanbeyan. No RSVP is necessary.

If you spot a platypus outside of survey times, report the sighting to waterwatch@act.gov.au. Please include the time, date, location and any notes about behaviour and habitat.

Mr Gentlemen said the ACT Government is committed to funding Waterwatch to help monitor and protect our waterways and native species.

If you’re interested in helping out with the surveys, email [email protected]act.gov.au

For more information about survey times and Waterwatch survey, visit www.act.waterwatch.org.au.

Waterwatch is funded by ACT Government and Icon Water.

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Ian Cubitts
Ian Cubitts