Merri River survey indicates platypus numbers are stable

THREE platypuses were spotted on a two-kilometre section of the Merri River during an hour-long survey last weekend, indicating their population was stable.

Merri River facilitator Karen Wales said the population count would help to conserve the local platypus by establishing their numbers in the fauna data banks of government and the independent Australian Platypus Conservancy.

The three platypuses were sighted in a stretch upstream of Grange Road on Warrnambool’s northern outskirts, she said.

Kayakers and canoeists were stationed at intervals along the two-kilometre stretch and stayed in position from 4pm-5pm to record any platypus sightings.

Ms Wales said she and another person had spotted five playtpuses when paddling up the Merri two years ago, so the recent population count indicated they were still about in similar numbers.

Before the recent surveys, there had been no information available on the local platypus population, Ms Wales said.

Apart from giving an indication of the strength of the local population, the recent count also helped more people appreciate the presence of local platypus and the Merri River, she said.

Seventeen volunteers had taken part in last Saturday’s survey and another nine had said they were keen to be involved.

Those who expressed an interest included people who had not been involved in previous conservation efforts and residents on stretches of the Merri and Hopkins rivers who were keen to tell of playtpuses in their areas.

Ms Wales said the recent count was funded by Victorian Landcare and it was hoped to stage further counts in future.

Those who took part in the latest count enjoyed still water conditions and had a great time, she said.

Ms Wales said Making A Difference for the Merri will hold its annual World Rivers Day paddle on Sunday, October 12.

She said kayaks and canoes could be provided for people without one who wanted to take part.

People interested in taking part should register their interest with Ms Wales at kwales@warrnambool.vic.gov.au or 0408 998 244.

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