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PHOTOS | VIDEO | Platypus saved during Mackenzie River survey

Josh Griffiths and Tamille Brunt searching for platypus in Mackenzie River in the Grampians at Zumsteins.

Josh Griffiths and Tamille Brunt searching for platypus in Mackenzie River in the Grampians at Zumsteins.


By Dean Lawson
Researchers surveying the Mackenzie River at Zumsteins for platypus last week saved the life of a juvenile female.
Wildlife ecologist Josh Griffiths, working with Wimmera Catchment Management Authority in the northern Grampians, discovered the female during the first night of surveys with a hair tie wrapped around her neck.
Mr Griffiths said if the hair tie had not been removed the platypus would have died in the next couple of weeks.
Mr Griffiths and Queensland PhD student Tamielle Blunt, formerly of Warracknabeal, spent three nights in the Grampians for the CMA’s annual monitoring of the river’s fragile platypus population.
The monitoring is part of a measurement process into the impacts of environmental flows into the river.
“She had quite a deep wound from where the tie had been rubbing and was showing signs of poor condition as a result,” Mr Griffiths said.
“She was a new juvenile, probably about six months old, so we were thankful to have captured her and have the opportunity to remove the hair tie. She swam off happily when we released her back into the river.”
Mr Griffiths said although researchers often discovered platypus tangled in pieces of rubbish near Melbourne, this was the first time they had seen it in Wimmera surveys.
“Being a more isolated area, we don’t find a lot of rubbish in the Mackenzie River,” he said.
“This shows how something so simple like a hair tie washing into a waterway can impact on our precious wildlife.”
Mr Griffiths discovered another female platypus they had not caught before during his second night of surveys.
The Weekly Advertiser’s Paul Carracher and his daughter Maddie were at the scene for the capture and Mr Griffiths named the new platypus Maddie.

Josh Griffiths with Maddie the  platypus in Mackenzie River in the Grampians at Zumsteins.

Josh Griffiths with Maddie the platypus in Mackenzie River in the Grampians at Zumsteins.

Heavy rain washed out the surveys on the third night.
Wimmera CMA chief executive David Brennan said results were encouraging, with the discovery of two new female platypuses indicating flows in the upper section of the Mackenzie River were having a positive impact.
“We have all become attached to this small and fragile platypus population, and we have given them names including Dusty, Amber, Ted, Max and Kenzie, and now Maddie,” he said.
“It’s especially exciting when we discover new females, which will be able to breed and further grow this small population.
“Environmental flows we target to this area will play an important role in maintaining habitat during dry conditions to help keep this population going.”
Mr Griffiths also collected eDNA samples in the lower section of the Mackenzie River where natural flows from rain last winter and spring, combined with environmental flows, have improved conditions.
“This section of the river is looking in really good condition at the moment and we’re hoping the eDNA results will show that the platypus population has moved further downstream,” he said.
“We haven’t captured platypus in this section of the river before via our survey nets, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there.
“The eDNA test is highly sensitive and is a much more efficient method for discovering platypus.”
The eDNA testing involves analysing water samples for cellular traces of aquatic life.

Josh Griffiths searching for platypus in Mackenzie River in the Grampians at Zumsteins.

Josh Griffiths searching for platypus in Mackenzie River in the Grampians at Zumsteins.

Josh Griffiths and Tamille Brunt searching for platypus in Mackenzie River in the Grampians at Zumsteins.

Josh Griffiths and Tamille Brunt searching for platypus in Mackenzie River in the Grampians at Zumsteins.

Josh Griffiths and Tamille Brunt searching for platypus in Mackenzie River in the Grampians at Zumsteins.

Josh Griffiths and Tamille Brunt searching for platypus in Mackenzie River in the Grampians at Zumsteins.

Josh Griffiths with Maddie the  platypus in Mackenzie River in the Grampians at Zumsteins.

Josh Griffiths with Maddie the platypus in Mackenzie River in the Grampians at Zumsteins.

Platypus in Mackenzie River in the Grampians at Zumsteins. Her name is Maddie.

Platypus in Mackenzie River in the Grampians at Zumsteins.
Her name is Maddie.

Josh Griffiths with Maddie the  platypus in Mackenzie River in the Grampians at Zumsteins.

Josh Griffiths with Maddie the platypus in Mackenzie River in the Grampians at Zumsteins.

Josh Griffiths with Maddie the  platypus in Mackenzie River in the Grampians at Zumsteins.

Josh Griffiths with Maddie the platypus in Mackenzie River in the Grampians at Zumsteins.

Josh Griffiths with Maddie the  platypus in Mackenzie River in the Grampians at Zumsteins.

Josh Griffiths with Maddie the platypus in Mackenzie River in the Grampians at Zumsteins.

Josh Griffiths with Maddie the  platypus in Mackenzie River in the Grampians at Zumsteins.

Josh Griffiths with Maddie the platypus in Mackenzie River in the Grampians at Zumsteins.

Josh Griffiths with Maddie the  platypus in Mackenzie River in the Grampians at Zumsteins.

Josh Griffiths with Maddie the platypus in Mackenzie River in the Grampians at Zumsteins.

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Posted on Apr 26 2017

Posted by on Apr 26 2017. Filed under Community, Education, Environment, FEATURED, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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