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New eDNA Technology Key To Protect The Elusive Platypus

17 September 2017

The Andrews Labor Government is calling on citizen scientists to help monitor and track platypus activity via new eDNA technology to ensure the survival of these amazing mammals in Victorian waterways.

Community water sampling by citizen scientists will be used to capture ‘environmental DNA’ (eDNA) to help Melbourne Water better locate the platypus and increase our knowledge about its health and where it lives.

The eDNA information is available because Platypus naturally shed cells from their bodies into the water, which can remain present for several weeks.

Once gathered, the data will help guide further environmental works to ensure our waterways are free from rubbish, nets or spills that could reduce platypus numbers.

This is a key part of the Labor Government’s plan to improve the health of the Yarra River through the Yarra Strategic Plan and Yarra Protection Bill.

Citizen scientists will capture eDNA biological information about the animal without the need to trap or even visually confirm its presence. The eDNA is then sent to a lab to see if platypus have been present.

While the species has not yet reached endangered status, in 2014 it was declared ‘near threatened’ and there is evidence the Platypus is not thriving as it once did.

The ‘Platypuses in Greater Melbourne’ report by The Centre for Environmental Stress and Adaptation Research (CESAR), has discovered the platypus at 81 sites across 50 per cent of the waterways investigated. Results showed platypus were most widespread in the Yarra catchment, followed by Western Port and Maribyrnong but are very restricted in Werribee and Dandenong Catchments.

But with the platypus more active in Spring, more work is needed to detect the species with 34 waterways without recent or present platypus records.

To become a citizen scientist and help track the platypus download the PlatypusSPOT app and head to, melbournewater.com.au.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Water Lisa Neville

“All of us can now play a part in protecting and better understanding these amazing animals – I urge all Victorians to get involved.”

It’s important we all work together to prevent this iconic Australian native animal from extinction, ensure our waterways are healthy and a place where native animals can thrive.”

Quote attributable to Minister for Planning Richard Wynne

"This is a great initiative and a valuable education opportunity for Victorians of all ages. Our wildlife and our waterways are the heart and soul of our state - and they deserve the highest protection."

Quote attributable to Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio

“The presence of platypus in the Yarra catchment is a positive sign for the health of our local aquatic ecosystems and gives Melbournians a great chance to see these extraordinary creatures.”

Reviewed 19 August 2020

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