Community spirit was on show recently as more than 60 community members gave their time to look for elusive platypuses in the region’s waterways.
Two COVID-safe events were held earlier this month at Fyansford Common and Inverleigh to look for platypus, with participants also learning the importance of the native animal to the health of the local rivers.
The project was an initiative of the Friends of the Barwon, with funding and support from the Tucker Foundation, Bendigo Bank, Barwon Water, Surf Coast Shire, Golden Plains Shire, City of Great Geelong, Geelong Landcare Network, Corangamite Catchment Management Auhtority and Upper Barwon Landcare Network.
The project was part of the Friends of the Barwon’s push to collect data and build a picture of the overall health of the Barwon River system, so areas of improvement can be identified.
EnviroDNA ecologist Josh Griffiths said a plentiful platypus population was a good indicator of the health of a river system.
After demonstrating the sampling technique, volunteers were sent out to take water samples for eDNA analysis from sites stretching across the mid Barwon River, the Leigh River and the Moorabool, as well as the smaller tributaries.
Participants also learned about the myriad of waterbugs living in the waterways, which serve as a food source for the platypus, and other creatures that call the Barwon River home.
With samples collected, they will now be analysed by EnviroDNA to detect the presence of platypus.
The results of the sampling will provided to the community through a report and webinar in the coming months.
The data collected will complement surveys already completed in the Upper Barwon catchment and the upper reaches of the Moorabool River catchment, giving an overall picture of distribution of platypus over a large portion of the catchment.
“This survey will connect the dots and tell an overall story which will cover the largest continuous area recorded in the state” Mr Griffiths said.
Anyone interested in the outcome of the survey can contact project coordinator Andrea Montgomery on email@example.com.