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 platypus 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?
Platypus 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 platypus 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 using the Platypus Watch Form.
- 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 a story: If you have a story to share about where and when you saw a platypus, send it to Platypus Splashes along with a picture if you have one, and we may publish it on our website.
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.
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.
July 2014 – PlatypusWatch on 10 again
Wildlife Queensland’s PlatypusWatch program will feature again on Network Ten when the platypus documentary, ‘The One and Only’ airs Saturday, 16 August at 3.00pm on Network Ten’s Channel One.
Having appeared earlier in the year on the children’s series ‘Totally Wild’, the footage shot at a PlatypusWatch event at Lagoon Creek in January is being used again by Channel Ten to inform viewers about the platypus’ history and evolution, the threats it faces and the frontline work being carried out to protect it.
“In November 2013, Network Ten’s documentary unit embarked on a three-month research project to develop an hour-long documentary on one of the world’s most curious creatures,” says Jo Ariel of the Documentary Unit, Network Ten.
“[In the documentary] we talk with experts at the Australian Platypus Conservancy, visit Healesville Sanctuary and the largest captive population of platypus in the world, and go on survey with Holly Bryant from the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland to find out how the widespread use of yabby traps is killing more and more of these beautiful monotremes”.
According to Holly Bryant, Wildlife Queensland Senior Projects Officer, “The filming was a great opportunity to spread our message about banning opera house traps. It was also great timing as we’d planned to use a camera at this event to explore a platypus burrow to see if it was active”.
“After filming our interviews and the burrow camera, Channel Ten came to our workshop and filmed some of that, which was very exciting for our volunteers and the community,” said Holly.
‘The One and Only’ will no doubt capture the passion Ariel shares with Wildlife Queensland for the platypus. “While it’s not listed as endangered, it is in trouble, and we [humans] are one of its biggest threats,” she says. “It’s an Australian icon … yet there is still so much to learn about this elusive and strange looking creature which scientists call a ‘living fossil’”.
Don’t miss ‘The One and Only’ on 16 August on Network Ten’s Channel One.
Perfect day for PlatypusWatchers
PlatypusWatchers were delighted and encouraged by no less than 12 platypus sightings at a recent survey in the Moreton Bay Region. On Sunday, 13 July, while a PlatypusWatch working bee was happening simultaneously at Lagoon Creek, three members of the Wildlife Queensland Moreton Bay Branch elected to survey future sites in the Moreton Bay Region.
Their forward-thinking was rewarded with no less than 12 sightings of platypus in the river – one of which was close enough to photograph – where logs and fallen branches provide important habitat for small aquatic invertebrates eaten by platypus. Carole Green points out that the 12 sightings may not have meant there were 12 separate platypus in the area; they play and resurface for air after a short time and usually feed on the surface.
And if that was not enough to be excited about, above on a branch were a pair of azure kingfishers displaying their brilliant colour.
Meanwhile, the working bee in Lagoon Creek involving some 37 members, dedicated itself to the removal of Salvinia molesta, a free-floating aquatic fern that can spread quickly across a waterway and impede the activities of platypus.
At the end of the event, the excited surveyors returned to the Lagoon Creek muster point and were able to share the good fortune of their many platypus sightings with the workers. According to Carole Green, it was a perfect morning for PlatypusWatch.
May 2014 – New Partner for PlatypusWatch
Residents and community members of Ipswich will soon join the ranks of those already surveying their local platypus populations as part of Wildlife Queensland’s PlatypusWatch program.
Aware of the program’s success in Brisbane and Moreton Bay, Ipswich City Council approached Wildlife Queensland in January this year about running a PlatypusWatch program in their area for the first time.
With historic records of platypus occurring throughout Ipswich City since 2000, Wildlife Queensland is excited by the expansion of the program into the Bremer River and tributaries and looks forward to working with Ipswich City Council to gather information about platypus abundance and distributions in these new areas.
Environment and Conservation Committee Chairperson Councillor Heather Morrow said this was an exciting time to be a platypus in Ipswich.
‘The partnership program will provide important data about the status and health of Ipswich’s platypus populations and bring opportunities to teach residents about their much-misunderstood monotreme mates,’ Cr Morrow said.
The program aims to start around July, with surveys beginning in September. Wildlife Queensland will work closely with Ipswich City Council to find appropriate survey locations based on historic sightings and suitable platypus habitat.
‘With every new project we start,’ said Senior Project Officer for Wildlife Queensland, Holly Bryant, ‘we are able to get our message out to more people about the threats to platypus and how to conserve their habitat and our waterways for future generations.’
April 2014 – More progress for platypus
Wildlife Queensland is excited to continue its PlatypusWatch project in Lagoon Creek, Caboolture. The project began in 2013 with Moreton Bay Regional Council funding two events. In March 2014, Moreton Bay Regional Council confirmed their financial support of the project’s continuation.
The aim of the project is to map the distribution of platypus in Lagoon Creek and improve habitat quality. The project has expanded in 2014 to include visual platypus surveys as well as initial education workshops and the removal of rubbish from the creek. The first event resulting from the new funding was run on Sunday, 6 April at Lagoon Creek. The event was attended by 20 community members, 10 of whom had attended the previous event in January 2014.
Friends of Lagoon Creek had previously removed rubbish from the same section of Lagoon Creek as part of Clean-Up Australia Day on Sunday, 3 March. Despite this recent effort, 13 large bags of rubbish were collected at the platypus event and included litter such as industrial Styrofoam, plastic bags, buckets, bottles, cans, glass, plastic rings, fishing line, fishing hooks and clothing.
The next PlatypusWatch event is scheduled for July 2014. If you’d like to be part of this project, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More progress for platypus.
February 2014 – PlatypusWatch
Pulling out all stops for platypus
Moreton Bay residents are fed up with platypus dying in fishing traps in local creeks. At least 12 platypus were found dead in opera house traps last year in Lagoon Creek alone. In October 2013, Moreton Bay Regional Council agreed to help fund a project within the local community to protect platypus against these avoidable deaths. The surveys to date have been successful in removing many traps, not to mention lots of rubbish, from several sections of Lagoon Creek.
The project began in December 2013 with over 20 people volunteering their time to the cause. The day started with a workshop outlining the dangers of opera house traps and how they impact platypus. From there the volunteers split into action teams and searched the creek banks for evidence of the traps.
Throughout the day, volunteers were successful in removing plastic bags and glass bottles from the creek. Both objects are harmful to platypus: bags can strangle the animals while broken glass can cut their bills and bodies. It was a hot day, but it ended with an immense sense of satisfaction for the volunteers who really felt they had fought for this unique and enigmatic creature.
With the project off to such a strong start, Wildlife Queensland was determined to keep up the momentum in 2014 and held the second platypus survey on Sunday, 19 January 2014. Thirty-eight eager volunteers attended this event, along with Channel 10 who came to film for a platypus documentary to be aired later in the year. Inspired by the success of the initial survey, Friends of Lagoon Creek were actively involved again and their local knowledge of problem areas in Caboolture was invaluable. Lagoon Creek Cafe and the Rotary Club also supported the cause by donating their function room and morning tea for the hungry volunteers.
As always, the success of the platypus project so far is a direct credit to its volunteers. Wildlife Queensland is now looking for more community members to join the ranks and continue pulling out all the stops for the platypus in 2014. The unnecessary and avoidable deaths of this native animal are a serious issue and we encourage those inspired by the cause to click here for details of the next two survey events.
Publications and information
- Looking out for Platypus – contact us for your free brochure
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.