New male found in platy­pus sur­vey

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

Re­searchers sur­vey­ing the Macken­zie River in the Grampians for platy­pus last week dis­cov­ered an adult male at Zum­steins, which had pre­vi­ously avoided cap­ture.

Wildlife ecol­o­gist Josh Grif­fiths was keen to re­cap­ture a ju­ve­nile fe­male they named Mad­die last year, or any oth­ers, es­pe­cially ju­ve­niles, but 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 to find the male.

He said the platy­pus, es­ti­mated about two years old, 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,” he said.

“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 to yield re­sults.

“I am just pleased to have dis­cov­ered a new male. Ev­ery year we dis­cover new an­i­mals, which in­di­cates the pop­u­la­tion is grow­ing, al­though very slowly.”

Mr Grif­fiths said en­vi­ron­men­tal flows were crit­i­cal for the lower sec­tion of the Macken­zie River be­yond 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,” he said.

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

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

“En­vi­ron­men­tal flows we send down 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

Mr Grif­fiths also took EDNA sam­ples in the river, in­clud­ing sec­tions closer to La­harum where res­i­dents had con­firmed re­cent platy­pus sight­ings.

The EDNA test­ing in­volves analysing wa­ter sam­ples for cel­lu­lar traces of aquatic life.

Wim­mera CMA will have re­sults later 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,” Mr Grif­fiths said.

“We haven’t cap­tured platy­pus in this sec­tion of the river be­fore via our sur­vey nets, but that does not 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 peo­ple to be­come in­volved with look­ing for platy­puses and re­port­ing their sight­ings via platy­pus SPOT on­line at www.platy­pusspot.org or via the platy­pusspot app. this

Left, Josh Grif­fiths caught this two-year-old male platy­pus dur­ing sur­veys. Wim­mera CMA has put out a call to name the platy­pus; right, Project Platy­pus man­ager John Pye, left, and Josh Grif­fiths, and two Stawell Sec­ondary School se­nior stu­dents camped out hop­ing for a glimpse of a platy­pus.

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