BURNETT MONSTER: There are plenty of animals in the Burnett River, including platypus (above) and lungfish (below left). However crocodiles (below right) are not listed.
BURNETT MONSTER: There are plenty of animals in the Burnett River, including platypus (above) and lungfish (below left). However crocodiles (below right) are not listed. Contributed

It might surprise you what lies beneath the Burnett

IS IT just a load of croc or could the waters of the Burnett River hold more than we know?

After spending 15 years volunteering for parks and wildlife authorities, John Mahoney said there were a number of species that live in the waters of the Burnett, many that the average person was not aware of.

Mr Mahoney spent hundreds of hours on the water in his kayak between 1999 and 2014, surveying the area and collecting data about the region's "massive" platypus population.

He says when people are on the water in a vessel like a kayak they feel every bump as they pass over logs, as well as fish such as the lungfish and large catfish.

"There are monster catfish up there - catfish big enough to feed a whole chicken to," he said.

The retired school principal said the catfish were big and strong enough to tow him along in the kayak if he caught them on his fishing line.

As to whether there were crocodiles in the river, he said he didn't feel strongly one way or the other but had never seen one himself.

"There are many species of animals in the Burnett and people may be astounded when they hear just what is in there," Mr Mahoney said.

"I don't think a crocodile could climb over the weir, so if they are in there, someone has placed them in there."

According to the Department of Environment, there are 2741 species of animals and plants in the upper Burnett River and 629 in the lower Burnett River, which includes Sandy Hook where three croc sightings have been reported since December.

The animals listed include the snubfin dolphin, pygmy sperm whale, platypus, Australian lungfish, bull shark and a variety of catfish.

Crocodiles are not on the list.

Mr Mahoney said the first time he saw a platypus he was paddling when he noticed a "V-shaped wake and a couple of eyes and a different shaped nose" coming towards him.

He said seeing animals in water was different to viewing them from land and the strange appearance in water may take people by surprise.

The department released a statement on Wednesday saying the crocodile sightings in the Burnett River were likely a "case of mistaken identity".

The first sighting was reported on Christmas Eve, the second was on December 29 and the third on January 2.

It said, after discussions with locals and surveys of the area, it was likely the animal was a lungfish.

It asked people report any crocodile sightings to the department.

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