A surprisingly high proportion (5%) of all platypus mortalities reported to the APC from 1989 to 2009 where the cause of death could be reliably assigned occurred after animals were sucked into irrigation pumps or (in one case) a mini-hydroelectric generator (Serena and Williams 2010). Small and inexperienced juveniles appear to be particularly likely to die in this manner, due in part to the fact that pump sheds tend to be located on elevated banks which sometimes provide the best available habitat for platypus nesting burrows.
What can be done to help protect the platypus?
- To prevent platypus and other aquatic wildlife from being sucked into water pumps or water-powered generators, a mesh cover or equivalent barrier should be fitted at an appropriate distance around all intake points.
- Research is needed to develop self-cleaning mesh barriers that can be fitted around pumps in places where floating aquatic plants otherwise block the barriers when pumps are in use.
Serena M and Williams G (2010) Factors contributing to platypus mortality in Victoria. The Victorian Naturalist 127, 178-183.