The platypus is one of Australia’s most amazing animals. Unfortunately, there is growing evidence that its numbers are declining. We urgently need to know where platypuses live – where they are common and where they have disappeared.
PlatypusWatch is a community-based program that aims to document where platypus occur so that we can develop a reliable ‘snapshot’ of platypus populations.
We will use this information to identify where conservation actions are needed – now and in the future – to protect this very special animal.
Why get involved?
Platypuses live up and down the east coast of Australia and inland from the Dividing Range but we know little of how many live where.
With PlatypusWatch, if you live near where platypus live (in Queensland), you can watch out for these amazing monotremes and tell us what you see.
If we can find out where platypuses live, we can help plan for appropriate development that is less likely to impact on our platypus populations. Our PlatypusWatch records are entered into a database that is used only for genuine conservation purposes.
Sharing your knowledge about platypus sightings with PlatypusWatch will not cause any problems for the animals concerned. Indeed, the biggest problem facing platypus conservation is human ignorance – starting with the fact that people are often unaware that their actions can have a major impact on animals living nearby.
How to get involved
- Report a sighting: Have you ever seen a platypus in the wild? If so, you can make a valuable contribution to PlatypusWatch by telling us about your previous and recent sightings. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with a description of your sighting, the postcode of your sighting and your contact details.
- Join a survey: Would you like to see a platypus in the wild? Come and join a platypus survey. Wildlife Queensland promotes community involvement in conservation and occasionally runs surveys to document local platypus populations. Contact us to find out more. You can also follow our PlatypusWatch Facebook page.
- Share your pictures: Do you have a story about seeing a platypus in the wild and a picture or two to share? Follow us on Instagram and tag your platypus pictures with #platypuswatchnetwork or @PlatypusConservationNetwork so we can share your pics. You can also like us on Facebook and post your best platypus photos to our wall to give us permission to share.
- Support us:
Mapping and modelling the distribution of platypus in Qld using environmental DNA
In 2016, Wildlife Queensland launched PlatyCount 2016, the first statewide platypus distribution census since 2001, to investigate a reduction over 20 years in observational records of platypus within Queensland. The funds raised from the PlatyCount 2016 campaign appeal allowed us to implement the environmental DNA (eDNA) project that PlatypusWatch has continued for the last 4 years.
Wildlife Queensland has been working with Australian ecological research and services consultancy, BioGeo, to map the distribution of platypus around Queensland. Using both observational data from the community and presence/absence data from eDNA, BioGeo is developing a model to help determine the habitat niche of the platypus which in turn can be used to help identify where they are likely to reside or where reintroductions would have the greatest likelihood of success – focusing conservation efforts.
Progress so far…
The below web map highlights where targeted eDNA samples have been taken over the three years from 2016-2018, along with information about each site, the number of copies of DNA found there, and when they were collected. Overlapping grid cells are coloured according to the mean number of copies of platypus DNA at each site across the grid cell and across years. The map also includes data from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) of recorded sightings of platypus over a 20-year period, from 1998-2018.
You can also open the map in a separate browser.
Note: hover your mouse over the icon at the top right of the map to view the map key.
September 2020 – Protecting the Platypus webinar
In this special webinar, co-hosted by Archdiocese of Brisbane and Wildlife Queensland, resident platypus ecologist Tamielle Brunt discusses why platypuses are important for freshwater ecosystems. Tamielle also talks about the threats platypuses face and what we can do to protect them.
August 2020 – Saving species one record at a time: the importance of ongoing monitoring
Were platypuses able to ride out the drought? Find out Wildlife Queensland’s 2020 eDNA survey findings for platypuses within the greater Brisbane region.
May 2020 – Wildlife Queensland launches fifth year of platypus eDNA surveys
Wildlife Queensland’s PlatypusWatch team has commenced its fifth season of platypus eDNA sampling in waterways across the greater Brisbane region.
November 2019 – Aquatic wildlife seeking refuge at risk of entrapment
Tamielle Brunt and Judith Vink report on an alarming recent find in an area that attracts an abundance of aquatic wildlife including the iconic platypus.
August 2019 – Is Brisbane’s platypus population disappearing?
Recent research suggests that declines in Australia’s platypus population have been underestimated and the population may have halved since Europeans arrived.
July 2019 – Platypus survey, Samford Valley
Look at that little guy go! Our platypus warrior, Tamielle, was out surveying in the Samford Valley last night, 16 July, and got the first capture of the season. A sub-adult male. Video © @platypus_protector
2018 – 3 years of platypus eDNA surveys!
2018 marks PlatypusWatch’s third year of platypus eDNA surveys, and again we have the Ipswich City Council and Logan City Council on board to further investigate platypus populations in their relevant local government areas. Residual funds from our 2016 PlatyCount appeal and those kindly donated by Australian Geographic last year have enabled this important project for our platypus to continue.
2018 will see the PlatypusWatch team sample another 70 locations, at least, across the greater Brisbane region, helping to paint a clearer picture every day of the distribution of this elusive iconic species in this area.
Publications and information
- PlatypusWatch brochure (pdf)
- Looking Out for Platypus (pdf)
- Happy platypus: how you can help an iconic Australian (pdf)
- Platypus puzzle and activity book: Download the activity book for some colouring-in, puzzles and more. Created by Wildlife Queensland platypus expert, Tamielle Brunt.
Since the launch of PlatypusWatch (previously known as PlatypusCare) by Wildlife Queensland in 2003, many groups, individuals and universities have embraced the focus on platypus by undertaking their own surveys, monitoring and research. Some are listed below.
- Gecko – Gold Coast and Hinterland Environment Council
- Gold Coast Catchment Association
- Moggill Creek Catchment Group
- Oxley Creek Catchment Association
- Pullen Pullen Catchment Group
- Save Our Waterways Now – Enoggera Creek
- University of Queensland Cool Pools
- Western Catchments
- WPSQ Bayside Branch
For more information on WPSQ’s projects, email or phone +61 (7) 3844 0129.