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.
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. Report your sightings:
- Online: via our PlatypusWatch Platypus Sighting form.
- By email: to email@example.com 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.
- Email us to find out more.
Join our social community
- If you would like to make a financial contribution, you can support PlatypusWatch through our adopt-a-platypus program.
- Buy some of our platypus merchandise, including our Full bib apron with platypus design, Platypus puppet, and Platypus soft toy.
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.
PlatypusWatch eDNA Tracker
The below web map highlights where targeted eDNA samples have been taken over the five years from 2016-2020, 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.
- Hover over the information icon located at the bottom right of the map. This provides details about the web map, what everything means and how to use it.
- Click on the waterways and a popup will give you extra information.
February 2021 – Call for citizen scientists: PlatypusWatch in the Dawson River
Wildlife Queensland’s Upper Dawson branch and the PlatypusWatch Network are calling for citizen scientists to be part of an important platypus project in the Upper Dawson River.
November 2020 – Priority protection needed for dwindling platypus populations
Platypus habitat in Australia has shrunk by 22 per cent in 30 years and the animal should now be listed as a nationally threatened species, according to new research led by the University of New South Wales.
October 2020 – Wildlife Queensland scores citizen science grant to conserve Queensland’s elusive platypus
Wildlife Queensland’s Platypus Watch Network has been granted $26,930 from the state government to survey and document the population distribution of platypuses within the upper Dawson River and tributaries around the Taroom region.
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.
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.