Citizen science is about to get more involved in the lives of one of the Snowy Monaro’s most treasured inhabitants – platypuses.
Events will be held from Cooma to Goulburn, Queanbeyan to Dalgety for community members interested in working with the Australian Platypus Conservancy (APC).
Snowy River Alliance chair, Elena Guarracino says, “APC biologists will highlight the features that make the platypus so special, explaining its biology and conservation.”
APC biologists, Dr Geoff Williams, and Dr Melody Serena will pass on hints on how to spot platypuses in the wild and how to become involved in a new monitoring program – the Australian Platypus Monitoring Network (APMN).
Dr Williams says that for the past decade, volunteers have been counting platypus numbers along several rivers in NSW and Victoria using standard survey methods.
“The APC is now set to expand existing monitoring efforts across the platypus’s entire range,” he says.
“A dedicated website and App provide improved training for volunteers and allow immediate uploading of sightings records in the field.”
Ms Guarracino, who has been monitoring platypuses on the Snowy River with the APC for some years, notes that keeping track of local platypus is important because the species is an iconic indicator of river health.
“Being an APMN volunteer doesn’t have to take a huge amount of time – you don’t have to look for platypus every day. Once or twice a week is fine on average. It only takes about five to ten minutes scanning at each site, Ms Guarracino says.
Landholders who live along the Snowy River or its tributaries who want to get involved on their private land are particularly welcome.
Dr Williams is urging anyone interested to come along to one of the free local info sessions.
“We’ll be covering other options for how people can contribute to platypus monitoring if APMN is not suitable for them,” he says.
“This includes looking for platypus occasionally and reporting ‘one-off’ sightings or organised ‘Group Watch’ sessions.
“Quite a few groups that we work with run such sessions – usually once or twice per year and they provide an excellent opportunity for families with kids of all ages to get involved,” Dr Williams says.
At Dalgety, there will also be a presentation on the platypus and its role and relationship with Aboriginal culture by Richard Swain and an opportunity to take a walk along the Snowy River to try some platypus spotting and monitoring.
Free platypus info sessions:
Monday, April 29, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm, Cooma Exservices Club, presented by Cooma Waterwatch. RSVP to Antia on 0429 778 633 or [email protected]
Tuesday, April 30, 6:00 pm, Yass, Trader & Co – RSVP HERE.
Wednesday, May 1, 6:00 pm, Goulburn, Level 1, 56 Clinton Street – RSVP HERE.
Friday, May 3, 6:45 am, Queanbeyan Platypus Walk, bookings essential, contact Queanbeyan Palerang Regional Council.
Friday, May 3, 11:00 am, Jerrabomberra Wetlands Info Centre, RSVP to [email protected]
Friday, May 3, 6:00 pm, Mongarlowe (Tombarra) RSVP to upper.shoalh[email protected]
Saturday, May 4, 2:30 pm, Dalgety Memorial Hall, presented by Snowy River Alliance with support from South East Local Land Services. Complimentary afternoon tea will be provided. There will be a general meeting of Alliance members between 12 noon – 2:00 pm.
In the meantime, platypus reports can be submitted via the Australian Platypus Conservancy website.