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5 September 2023

Get to know the Tweed’s most curious resident

Sneak a peek at the elusive Platypus of Tweed

Platypus1 - Dave Watts

View the Platypus of Tweed Story Map to get to know the Tweed’s most curious resident (Photo courtesy Dave Watts).

Attention Tweed residents: put on your citizen scientist caps, pick up a pair of binoculars and help us monitor the Shire’s most elusive resident, the platypus.

Awareness of the Tweed’s mysterious platypus is front and centre in September with the publication today of Tweed Shire Council’s latest Story Map, Platypus of Tweed. This immersive digital experience presents a suite of multimedia and maps brought together to showcase platypus living in the Tweed’s waterways.

Topics include platypus evolution, cultural significance, facts (did you know they glow in the dark?), habitat features, distribution, diet, life cycle, threats and opportunities.

The release of the Story Map coincides with the platy-project, a nationwide month of citizen science action driven by the Australian Conservation Foundation and University of NSW. During the month of September, citizen scientists will monitor platypus and help fill the gaps in our understanding of where this elusive animal lives, so we can better protect it now and into the future.

Council's Team Leader – Coast and Waterways Tom Alletson said it was important to get an accurate picture of the Tweed’s platy population, with the shy mammal currently listed as Near Threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List for Threatened Species, with their total population trending downwards.

“While common on the east coast of Australia, there is a general lack of knowledge of the number of platypuses at a local catchment scale which would enable us to predict local population trends,” Mr Alletson said.

“This is the second month we are calling on residents to keep their eye out for this elusive animal. Since putting out the call to Tweed residents at the start of August, we’ve had 17 unique confirmed sightings of platypus across the Shire.

“We’re calling on residents to keep up their good work and continue to keep a watch out for platypuses in our creeks and waterways so we can get a better understanding of the extent of our local platypus population. September sits in the middle of its breeding season and is an ideal time to spot a platy.”

Mr Alletson encouraged residents to take a leisurely scroll through Platypus of Tweed, listen to the soothing sounds of their habitat and delve into the many facets of their life. You can even zoom in on a map to find a possible platy-spotting location near you.

In addition to building awareness of platypus in local waterways, the publication also asks the community to think about their actions, particularly in relation to waterways and riparian vegetation.

“To improve water quality, we ask residents to keep waterways clean by taking rubbish home or putting it in a bin, dispose of fishing line responsibly and use environmentally-friendly fishing tackle such as lead-alternative sinkers, biodegradable line and non-stainless hooks,” Mr Alletson said.

“The retention and restoration of native vegetation on river and creek banks are also crucial. These actions not only improve water quality by reducing water temperature through shading but also reduce sediment from entering waterways. Increased sediment can smother aquatic macroinvertebrates (water bugs), the platypus’ favourite snack.”

Tweed riparian landholders can apply for a grant through Council’s River Health Grants program to assist in riverbank rehabilitation, establish stock exclusion fencing on waterways and more. To make an application for a grant visit tweed.nsw.gov.au/environmental-grants-incentives.

The use of banned recreational fishing equipment such as ‘opera house’ style yabby traps have been responsible for a significant number of platypus deaths in eastern Australia. These traps drown platypus and other air-breathing native animals such as turtles, rakali (native water rats) and water birds. To report illegal fishing, call the NSW Fisheries hotline on 1800 043 536 or report online at dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing/compliance/report-illegal-activity.

Platypus monitoring contributes to a better understanding of this uniquely Australian creature and may help prevent declines in both their habitat and numbers. All sightings are added to the Atlas of Living Australia database, Australia’s national biodiversity database at ala.org.au/.

View the Platypus of Tweed Story Map and report any platypus sightings at au.openforms.com/Form/ (link also included in Story Map).

Two Albert's Lyrebirds caught on camera at Mt Nullum
Residents are encouraged to record any sightings of platypus in the Tweed as part of the nationwide platy-project this September. (Photo courtesy Dave Watts)


Photo 1: Platypus1 - Dave Watts
Caption: View the Platypus of Tweed Story Map to get to know the Tweed’s most curious resident. (Photo courtesy Dave Watts)

Photo 2: Playtpus2 - Dave Watts
Caption: Residents are encouraged to record any sightings of platypus in the Tweed as part of the nationwide platy-project this September. (Photo courtesy Dave Watts)

Connection to Council’s Community Strategic Plan:

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Tweed Shire Council wishes to acknowledge the Ngandowal and Minyungbal speaking people of the Bundjalung Country, in particular the Goodjinburra, Tul-gi-gin and Moorung – Moobah clans, as being the traditional owners and custodians of the land and waters within the Tweed Shire boundaries. Council also acknowledges and respects the Tweed Aboriginal community’s right to speak for its Country and to care for its traditional Country in accordance with its lore, customs and traditions.
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