Rare photos of a juvenile platypus

By Larry B. Dalton and Laura A. Romin 30 January 2015
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Platypus are known for being extremely shy, but this little fella was curious about some lucky wildlife photographers

THE PLATYPUS (Ornithorhynchus anatinus), an egg-laying semi-aquatic mammal endemic to eastern Australia, is typically shy; but it can be inquisitive, too, which makes an exhilarating experience if you happen to see them up close, as two wildlife photographers found.

Larry Dalton and Laura Romin share their experience here (See images below):

“Our passion, as nature photographers and wildlife biologists from the western United States (Utah), is watching and photographing free ranging wildlife around the world. September 2014 was our first trip to photograph Australia’s iconic wildlife.

We found platypuses to be common at streams, rivers, ponds and lakes; however, their shyness made photography a challenge. Platypuses rarely venture onto land, except to den. Pools and ponds seemed to be the best locales to quietly watch in early morning or evening, which we did on several occasions.

Persistence paid off and a young platypus appeared, overcoming its shyness to pose. It became so enthralled watching us that it crawled out of the water onto some wetted rocks only 5m away and watched for several minutes. It repeated this unusual, out-of-water behavior multiple times and on multiple rocks.

The young platypus with its duck-billed mouth agape seemed to be in an anthropogenic state of awe. At one instance it rolled up on a side and vigorously scratched with a foot, seemingly very comfortable with our presence.

After about an hour another larger-sized platypus, possibly its mother, swam from an adjoining pool and gave a non-audible signal (at least no sound was heard by us), and the youngster joined her in the other pool, both disappearing to a den. Our experience was astonishing, and totally unexpected.

Young platypus climbs from the water to watch photographers. (Credit: Laura Romin & Larry Dalton / Wildlife Reflections Photography)

The young platypus is floating in a deep pool after a foraging foray. (Credit: Laura Romin & Larry Dalton / Wildlife Reflections Photography)