Platypus are air-breathing mammals that must come to the surface at least every five minutes. This means that they are susceptible to drowning if they are caught in a trap underwater.
Reports are being received by Wildlife Queensland of platypuses found dead in yabby traps in northern and central Queensland and even in the Brisbane River. A recent incident was in the North Johnstone River east of Malanda in far north Queensland where a yabby trap contained 2 dead platypus and 4 dead turtles.
What was striking about the find was the range of decomposition in the turtles, from bits of shell through to a fresh female saw-shelled turtle indicating that the trap had been drowning animals over a period of weeks. The two platypuses had a similar level of decay which indicated they had probably been dead for less than two weeks (as you can see from the pictures there was still much flesh around the tails).
Platypuses are fairly small creatures, measuring less than half a metre in length so they can enter an opening of a trap if it is too large. The Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries in Queensland provides information on what type of nets and traps can be used legally in freshwater systems.
Traps should be checked regularly. Yabby traps must clearly show an identification tag with the name and address of the owner. It is important to familiarise yourself with the fishing regulations in your area. More details are available on the DPI&F website.
Many people are unaware that a platypus could be living in their waterway and do not consider the impacts their fishing activities can have.
Increasing community awareness of the impacts of fishing practices on this unique Australian mammal will help to reduce platypus deaths.
Report any incidence of dead platypuses or other wildlife from yabby traps to Wildlife Queensland so we can monitor the situation and increase publicity to help reduce the number of fatalities in the future.
For more information
- Danger in the opera house – wildlife death traps – August 2010
- Danger in the Opera house – July 2010
- Danger in the opera house … Platypus Death Traps
- Queensland Seniors urged to leave the yabby trap at home – August 2009
- Wildlife Queenland’s PlatypusWatch project
- Danger in the opera house – Wildlife Australia Magazine – Spring 2009
More information about Platypus and Wildlife Queensland’s PlatypusWatch project.
For more information on Wildlife Queensland’s activities, contact us by email or call +61 7 3221 0194
Wildlife Queensland – October 2008