Expert to lead platypus workshop at Gloucester

ONE of Australia’s leading platypus biologists, Dr Tom Grant is heading back to the Manning Valley to run a community workshop this week.

Dr Grant, who has studied platypus populations in the Manning River at Bootawa as part of studies for MidCoast Water, will lead a workshop near Gloucester on Friday.

The community will have an opportunity to learn how to spot this elusive icon of our streams. The activity is being held in conjunction with the Gloucester Platypus Festival which will be in Billabong Park the following day.

Anecdotal reports suggest that platypuses are abundant in our local fresh water rivers.

This is backed by Dr Grant’s studies, commissioned by MidCoast Water as part of research into environmental flows. He consistently found healthy populations in the pools upstream of Wingham, though they did seem to be impacted by the low river flows last summer.

“Low river flows reduce the area available to platypus for foraging,” explains Manning Great Lakes Platypus Awareness and Conservation Team representative Kirsty Hughes.

“To many people platypus symbolise healthy rivers, because they need stable river banks for their burrows, and clean, abundant water to support their diet. This is what we are celebrating at the platypus festival, because healthy rivers are also essential to us.”

Dr Grant will also be speaking at the festival on Saturday, September 6, as one of an impressive line-up of presenters in ‘The Burrow’, many aligned with the festival’s theme this year of ‘Rivercare’. Now in its fourth year, the festival boasts hands on entertainment and activities for the whole family.

More information on the platypus spotting workshop and the Gloucester Platypus Festival can be obtained from www.platypusfestival.com.au or by calling Kirsty Hughes at MidCoast Water on 6592 4830. Bookings will be appreciated for the workshop.

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