You’ll never forget your first platypus encounter. It’s a magical moment when this strange and adorable creature emerges from ripples in the water.
If you live near a creek or river, find a quiet place on the bank, try to spot a platypus and record what you see.
By taking part, you’ll help researchers understand more about this elusive animal, and how we can better protect it.
With a rubbery duck bill, webbed feet and fur, the platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) is one of Australia’s strangest and most iconic animals.
A monotreme, the platypus is one of only two mammals that lay eggs (the other is the echidna) and male platypuses have a venomous spur on their back feet. They really are like no other animal on the planet.
Different groups of First Nations peoples have named the platypus Mallangong, Tambreet, Gaya-dari, Boonaburra and Lar-re-lar.
But platypus numbers are in decline, and this unique creature is now at risk of extinction. Land clearing, dams, drought and bushfires are destroying critical platypus habitat, leaving them with nowhere to go.
To survive, platypuses need safe habitat to call home.
A young platypus on a log in McMahons Creek, Yarra Ranges, Victoria. Photo: Douglas Gimesy
By recording where platypuses live we can understand more about this incredible creature, and help prevent further declines in their numbers.
That’s where you can help. There are places within the platypus’ range where sightings have never been recorded, or where they haven’t been seen for a long time. These are our biggest gaps in knowledge.
You can help researchers fill these gaps by visiting priority areas, looking for platypuses, and uploading your findings to the University of New South Wales’ platypus sighting database.
You’ll also have an incredible time getting out into nature – and hopefully experience the magical moment of spotting a platypus!
Mann River Nature Reserve, New South Wales. Photo: Bette Devine/ACF
Designed and created by platypus researchers at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), the platy-project map was created to prioritise the biggest gaps in platypus data.
We know the platypus has a large distribution – from the tropics of northern Queensland to temperate Tasmania – but little is known about which specific waterways platypus inhabit, including whether declines in populations or local extinctions have occurred.
Filling these knowledge gaps is a big job, and the researchers at UNSW need the help of the community to tackle it. The map was created so we can direct our platypus search efforts to the most important areas.
Use the map to identify priority areas near you – then head out to see if you can spot a platypus. Priority areas are places within the platypus’ predicted range where they’ve never been recorded, or where they haven’t been seen in a while.
This February, we’re asking Aussies to head to their nearby river or creek to see if they can spot a platypus.
Want to experience that magical moment? Sign up for all the resources you need to take part in the platy-project.
Already signed up? Click here to find all the resources you need to take part in the platy-project.