Salli doing DNA sampling on Moonee Ponds Creek StrathmoreIn spring 2021, MCMC helped 18 volunteers collect water samples from 11 sites on the Yarra River, Merri and Moonee Ponds Creeks in the first ever Citizen Science Great Australian Platypus Search.

The Great Australian Platypus Search trains volunteers to collect samples from waterways safely and accurately so that platypus presence within the last 24-48 hours can be detected. A large syringe and filters are used to capture DNA, samples are taken directly from a waterway and shipped to the EnviroDNA laboratory for analysis. Volunteers have submitted samples from sites all over Victoria. Waterwatch turbidity sampling was also completed and added to the Waterwatch Victoria data portal.

Alister doing DNA sampling on the Yarra in AlphingtonThis method is an easier, cheaper, less invasive way to detect the presence of platypus in waterways than the previous capture and release method, which used fyke nets and was labour intensive and stressful to the animals caught. What's more, the DNA sampling can be done by Citizen Scientists!

Platypus appear in all of the eastern States of Australia but in many places are struggling to keep their populations up. Platypus are classified as Vulnerable in Victoria. Threats to platypus include loss of habitat, drought, climate change and in urban areas especially, urban stream syndrome, the high flows of water from stormwater outputs and the pollutants (detergent, oil, litter) that come into our creeks.