Merri River platypus survey counts on volunteers

THEY’RE elusive, shy and most people don’t know they call our rivers and creeks home. 

Warrnambool City Council Merri River facilitator Karen Wales is seeking volunteers to help with a platypus survey on Saturday. 140826DW11 Picture: DAMIAN WHITE

Warrnambool City Council Merri River facilitator Karen Wales is seeking volunteers to help with a platypus survey on Saturday. 140826DW11 Picture: DAMIAN WHITE

When last counted, the Merri River near Warrnambool was home to at least five platypuses.

This weekend teams of volunteers will paddle along the river to try to learn how many still reside in the area. 

Making a Difference for The Merri program facilitator Karen Wales said volunteers would paddle to designated spots along the river to sit and observe. 

She said they were focusing on an area about five kilometres upstream from the Wollaston Bridge and were keen to hear from experienced kayakers, with their own gear, who are prepared to sit alone or in a pairs for an hour on Saturday afternoon. 

“A couple of years ago I paddled upstream with a LandCare member as far as we could and spotted at least five platypuses on the way up and back in an afternoon,” she said. 

“Two weeks ago we paddled in the same region and spotted two platypuses one afternoon, but I’m hoping there’s more and they were hiding out when we paddled past.” 

She said the results would be collated and entered into Department of Environment and Primary Industries databases. 

Ms Wales said getting as many people as possible to sit quietly on the water on Saturday would give a much better chance of getting clearer picture of the platypus numbers in that section of the river. 

“We’d also be keen to hear from landowners further along who may be prepared to sit on the bank and watch,” she said. 

She said the monitoring would be from 4pm-5pm on Saturday, with the recommended launching place at St James Park beside Wollaston Bridge.

For more information or to register your interest contact Ms Wales on 0408 998 244. 

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