Ultrasounds are a non-invasive and reliable tool to distinguish the reproductive status in large, free ranging sharks. Learning the reproductive status in sharks is essential to define and preserve their breeding grounds.

First Underwater Wireless Ultrasound Scans Large Sharks for Pregnancy

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The world’s first underwater wireless ultrasound, Duo-Scan:Go Oceanic has been successful in scanning tiger and reef sharks conducted in the Bahamas by shark conservationists, Beneath the Waves.

Beneath the Waves shark scanning

Ultrasounds are a non-invasive and reliable tool to distinguish the reproductive status in large, free ranging sharks. Learning the reproductive status in sharks is essential to define and preserve their breeding grounds. 

Beneath the Waves, Founder & CEO, Austin Gallagher, explains the benefit of scanning underwater. “Underwater scans open up a whole set of new research experiences and settings – allowing us to evaluate large sharks in their environment. This reduces stress placed on the animals from heavy capture and restraint and gives researchers the chance to scan animals without capturing them.” 

Gallagher illustrates how this will impact future excursions, “The potential is massive- as we can now quickly determine when and where pregnancy occurs from sharks. This is of great conservation value considering the push for marine protected areas in our world’s oceans, and specifically for our work and that of others in the Caribbean. Finding gestation grounds and the habitats in which they occur is of critical importance for protecting these threatened species.”

Designed, developed and manufactured by IMV imaging, the wireless Duo-Scan:Go Oceanic can be taken to depths of up to 30 meters. With the assistance of Wi-Fi to view the ultrasound image, videos and stills can be easily saved on any smart device.

Chief Executive of IMV imaging, Alan Picken, highlights the development required to ensure the ultrasound was user-friendly for aquatic researchers.

“Our Scottish engineers had to ensure the device was durable enough to be taken to the same depths as recreational scuba divers, maneuverable enough to aid the diver in scanning but not so flexible that strong ocean currents would inhibit its functionality. It was a delicate balance and a great feat of engineering,” commented Mr. Picken. 

 

The first ultrasound image concludes a confirmed pregnancy in a Caribbean reef shark. The second ultrasound image is an open womb in a Caribbean reef shark 

Beneath the Waves is dedicated to advancing the conservation of sharks and the habitats they occupy through cutting edge, policy relevant scientific research.

 

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