Photo credit: Paul Carracher, The Weekly Advertiser
With recent reported sightings of platypuses in the Wimmera River at Dimboola, the Wimmera Catchment Management Authority is keen for locals to keep an eye out for and report sightings of the elusive creatures.
While platypus were historically widespread through the Wimmera River system, numbers in the river itself have declined rapidly during the Millennium Drought.
Monitoring work in the Wimmera River over recent years has failed to show any sign of the animal, however they are known to be breeding and dispersing in the MacKenzie River – in part due to environmental flows in that river.
Pictured above: A platypus found in the MacKenzie River last year. Source: Paul Carracher, The Weekly Advertiser.
Greg Fletcher, Planning and Policy Officer Water at the Wimmera CMA, said that the CMA is asking locals to be on the lookout.
“We’re keen for locals to be extra vigilant and hopefully capture a photo/video of a platypus and report it to PlatypusSPOT (www.platypusspot.org) or the Australian Platypus Conservancy.”
Fletcher said that the recently reported sightings at Dimboola are positive, although platypus can be difficult to distinguish.
“Sightings of platypuses have also been increasingly rare in the last ten to fifteen years and the recent reporting of two sightings in the Wimmera River at Dimboola creates cause for some optimism although sometimes they can be confused with rakali (water rats) in poor light and at great distances.
“Also with such a small potential population – the impacts of avoidable deaths from drowning or entanglement in letter become even greater.”
This has reiterated the CMA’s call for people to obey fishing regulations in the region’s waterways, in particular regarding the use of nets.
“We remind people to obey fishing regulations and not use opera house or drum nets in the river (as they might think that there are no issues with no platypuses there) as well as be careful with their litter to avoid entanglement like what happened to a platypus on the MacKenzie River last year.”
This call comes after an opera house net was found in the MacKenzie River earlier this month.
Platypus are not the only creatures the CMA are interested in. This year alone there have been Eels and Australian Bass sighted at Jeparit, and a Roach at Horsham. If you see anything of interest in our waterways you can get in touch with the CMA on 5382 1544 or by email to email@example.com.
VIDEO: Josh Griffiths removes a hair tie from Lucky the Platypus. Source: Wimmera CMA.