Werribee River platypus surveys confirm platypus population in in the heart of Werribee City Centre

The recent results of platypus surveys conducted in the Werribee River indicate a moderately healthy population of platypus living in the urbanised waterways near Werribee City Centre.

The Werribee River Association was the first environmental organisation in Victoria to organise surveys of platypus wildlife specialists. Wyndham City funded the original surveys, with some by Greater Western Water, but most by Melbourne Water.

The process of live trapping platypus is a specialist activity involving permits, reporting and detailed measurements, health assessments and electronic tagging.

The latest survey night took place on Thursday 2 May 2024 by Ecology Australia, and was supported by a small group of Werribee River Association staff, including the Werribee Riverkeeper John Forrester a veteran of such surveys. Volunteers and members, who were in attendance, were delighted to be present at the live trapping of two healthy juvenile male platypus, aged approximately 6 months and weighing around 900gms – 1100gms.

A healthy adult female caught later that night, and all were released after processing. One of the male juveniles, sadly, had looped litter entangled around its body. Loop litter is a leading cause of injury, disease and death in platypus, and highlights the importance of cutting looped items such as hair ties, rubber bands and bottle rings at disposal.

The central parts of Werribee City Centre are still able to co-habitat within urban environments, albeit in small numbers; however, a report produced by John Forrester and the Werribee River Association in 2023, detailing 25 years of platypus research, indicate the species is certainly under threat.

“The Werribee River Association’s latest reports tell the story of how we need to protect platypus into the future – with environmental flows, widening and improving the riparian strip of vegetation, education of communities and engineered solutions to stormwater pollution, to support the water bugs, the food source of the platypus.” said the Werribee Riverkeeper.

Advocates for the platypus and for the work that the Werribee River Association undertake are encouraged to visit their website to find out more about supporting their work, through volunteering, membership or a donation.

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