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Wimmera CMA

Street Address:
24 Darlot Street, Horsham, 3400
(enter via Gleed St)

Postal Address:
PO Box 479, Horsham, VIC, 3402
Phone: (03) 5382 1544
Fax: (03) 5382 6076
Email: wcma@wcma.vic.gov.au
 
Office Hours:
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(excluding Public Holidays and Christmas - New Year Closure.  Office may also be closed for short periods Monday mornings)

Article

Platypus surveys find adult male

Apr 13, 2018


 

WCMA-2018AdultMalePlatypus-April2018-360x253New male discovered

 
MacKenzieRiverPlatypusMacKenzie River beauty
 
Platypus surveyorsJosh Griffiths and John Pye
Researchers surveying the MacKenzie River in the Grampians for platypus this week discovered an adult male at Zumsteins who’s avoided capture until now.

Wildlife ecologist Josh Griffiths was keen to recapture a juvenile female they named Maddie last year or any others, especially juveniles, but true to their nature the platypuses remained elusive.

The monitoring is part of a Wimmera Catchment Management Authority program to measure waterway condition and outcomes from environmental flows.

Mr Griffiths said although he would have liked to have discovered more platypuses it was still great news for the CMA to find the male. Estimated at around two years old, he said it was in ‘really good condition’.

“This discovery indicates the river system is providing good enough quality habitat to sustain the population and allow it to grow. We would have loved to have discovered more, and we all had our hopes pinned on rediscovering Maddie who captured our hearts last year. The reality is this is a very small population and these surveys are never guaranteed as yielding results.  “I am just pleased to have discovered a new male for the CMA. Every year we discover new animals which indicates the population is growing, although very slowly.”

Environmental flows critical

Mr Griffiths said environmental flows were critical for the lower section of the MacKenzie River beyond the Grampians National Park. "It’s noticeable every time I come here that the quality of habitat in the river is improving which is allowing this platypus population to expand.”

Wimmera CMA staff members, Project Platypus manager John Pye and community members including two Stawell Secondary College senior students joined Josh during the surveys.

Encouraging results

Wimmera CMA chief executive David Brennan said the results were encouraging.

“Environmental flows we target to the MacKenzie River play an important role in maintaining habitat during dry conditions to help keep this small and fragile population going,” he said. “We have all become attached to these platypuses and have given them names. We have Dusty, Amber, Ted, Smoot, Max and Kenzie and Maddie. We’ve also put out a call on social media to name this new male.”

eDNA samples

Josh also took eDNA samples in the river, including sections closer to Laharum where locals have confirmed recent platypus sightings. The eDNA testing involves analysing water samples for cellular traces of aquatic life. Wimmera CMA will have results later this month.

“This lower section of the river is in good condition at the moment and we’re hoping the eDNA results will show that the platypus population has moved further downstream,” Josh said.

“We haven’t captured platypus in this section of the river before via our survey nets, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. The eDNA test is highly sensitive and is a much more efficient method for discovering platypus and has shown that they have recolonised areas where they disappeared during the Millennium Drought.”

Wimmera CMA encourages residents to become involved with looking for platypus and reporting their sightings via platypus SPOT online at www.platypusspot.org or via the platypusSPOT app.