Platypus found entangled in Merri Creek

Following several reliable platypus sightings in Merri Creek over the past 18 months, their presence was confirmed recently when a platypus was discovered by a local resident near Moreland Rd, Thornbury.

While it is great news that platypuses have recolonised one of Melbourne’s most urbanised and modified streams after a long absence, the adult male was found to be entangled in fishing line, twine, and several elastic bands.

Following removal of rubbish and treatment by vets at Healesville Sanctuary, the platypus was released back into Merri Creek.

This highlights one of the major issues in urban waterways and one the Wildlife Ecology team at cesar encounter far too often.

Due to the way platypuses forage, they are extremely susceptible to discarded rubbish being caught around their head and shoulders. Typical items include fishing line, elastic bands, plastic rings and hair ties.

Once entangled it is very difficult for the platypus to free itself and the rubbish can potentially get snagged underwater and drown the animal, or rub and cut into the flesh and impede foraging ability.

Captured animals that have been entangled are generally in poor condition as they have been unable to forage effectively, and surgical removal of items occurs on some occasions, leaving horrific wounds.

Operating on animals that are in poor condition carries additional risks that can result in death.

cesar is currently conducting a series of surveys to determine the distribution of platypuses in Merri Creek.

In addition, cesar and Melbourne Water are trying to raise awareness of the environmental issues in Merri Creek with more than 50 people attending a platypus talk at CERES earlier this month. 

Cover image: Photo by Josh Griffiths, Cesar Australia

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