platygroupduskwalkAt dusk on the 18th of September 2022, 32 participants met in the pouring rain at Dights Falls on Wurundjeri Woi wurrung country  where Merri Creek meets the Birrarung (Yarra River), to learn about platypus in our local waterways. It was a part of the Australian Conservation Foundation Platy-project, a citizen science project, which aims to gather data on the presence or absence of platypus across the country. MCMC was pleased to partner on this project.

The participants learned about issues like "urban stream syndrome" where rapid stormwater runoff from hard urban surfaces (roads and roofs) after rain leads to swift increases in the amount of water and speed of flow in creeks, brings high nutrient and sediment loads, causes erosion of bank and results in low levels of sensitive aquatic macroinvertebrates (waterbugs). This threatens the breeding capacity and wellbeing of platypus, as they rely on waterbugs for their diet, and stable banks of creeks to make their burrows.

A report commissioned by the Merri Paddle in 2021 found that no resident platypus populations are expected to live entirely in Merri creek. They are, however, thought to travel into the creek for short periods from the Birrarung (Yarra River). The Dights Falls location was chosen for this event, as it is the most likely area to see platypus along the Merri Creek.

Although none of the surveys conducted identified any platypus, the participants enjoyed sitting among the trees, watching ducks float over the water and listening to lorikeets squawking overhead as the sun set. The absence of sightings was consistent with what was expected, as the water and habitat quality of the Merri Creek does not make it an ideal home for platypus. Revegetation, improvements to water and habitat quality along the creek may allow for the return of this amazing creature to our local waterways in the future.

In total for the ACF Platy Project, 860 platypus were spotted throughout its range in September, 497 spotters recorded these sightings and over 400 people attended events. Check out the wrap-up blog and video here: https://www.acf.org.au/platy-project-photo-blog

This event was funded by the City of Yarra and organised in conjunction with the Merri Paddle (a sub-group of Friends of Merri Creek), and Merri Creek Management Committee.