In search of the strangest mammal in the worldNovember 13, 2018
Australia? Of course you immediately think of koalas and kangaroos. The platypus, however, is often forgotten. The Aborigines believed that it must have arisen during the mating of duck and swimming rat.
Those who have taken care in biology classes know that platypuses are mammals, special mammals. They lay eggs, suckle their offspring, have the beak of birds, and the male animals have small venomous spines on their hind legs. They are harmless to humans, says Luana. She runs Finch Hatton, Queensland, the “only diving school in the world where you can go diving in the rainforest in the footsteps of the platypus.”
In their diving school we get the necessary diving equipment. Without any comparisons, I appreciate it up to date. Then Luana explains the main rules of diving.
The fact that we can go into the water here without a diving certificate is due to the low water depth. We will dive for a maximum of three meters. And the probability of seeing platypuses? Luana can not guarantee anything, but hopes the best, as we leave the chirping of birds behind us and dive into the stagnant water.
But still the happy ending
Suddenly it is quiet. Only my breathing and the rising of the used breathing air I perceive acoustically. I dive through a green cloud of the finest algae and see nothing for a few seconds. Behind the nothing a turtle swims. Slightly further, Luana points to an eel. The time under water passes very fast. We see some fish and then dive back. We do not see any platypuses.
Disappointed, I take off my wetsuit and clean my diving equipment. A few minutes later we meet Luanas staff Col. He picks us up with a minibus and drives us to the “Platypus Lodge Restaurant” in the Eungella National Park, which is known because of the platypus living there.
Locally we learn that the nocturnal animals are best seen between four and eight in the morning and between three and seven in the evening. Up to 1600 dives a platypus completes in a night in search of food. It stays under water for only 30 to 35 seconds and looks for waterler larvae, crabs or freshwater shrimps. But it is only eaten at the water surface. This moment is our chance to catch a glimpse of the bizarre animals.
For over an hour I walk along the riverbed and stare at the course of the water. In the distance I see small movements under water. But the view is too bad, I do not recognize anything. But just before we want to leave, a platypus appears thirty meters in front of me, looks around and disappears under water again. I now know that these mythical platypuses really live in these waters. And honestly, the Aborigines were not far off the mark with their theory.
Steven Hille is on the road worldwide for his blog Funkloch.me.