July 26, 2017 — E.I. Medical Imaging (EIMI) has partnered with Tristan Guttridge, Ph.D., and the Bimini SharkLab to custom design the world’s first ultrasound system to be used underwater to produce diagnostic images of sharks in their native habitat. In preparation for a piece produced by Icon films for Discovery Channel's Shark Week, Guttridge approached EIMI with the idea of an underwater ultrasound system to take pregnancy diagnosis directly to hammerhead sharks underwater.
EIMI produces portable, highly ruggedized ultrasound systems for veterinary use. While highly water-resistant, their production models were never designed to be used underwater. When Guttridge approached EIMI with the idea of waterproofing a system to support the project "Great Hammerhead Invasion," the engineering team at EIMI took up the project with great excitement. "They loved our crazy idea of attempting to ultrasound a great hammerhead in Bimini!" said Guttridge. Designing an ultrasound system to operate underwater held many engineering challenges. To operate at the depths required for Guttridge's work was especially challenging.
Being land-locked in Colorado also posed some logistical testing challenges. The team at EIMI worked on the first iteration of the submersible system and shipped the system to the Bahamas for Guttridge to test. The unit performed as intended and allowed Guttridge to capture the underwater images of pregnant hammerheads he needed to validate his theory on hammerhead breeding patterns. "Since then we have managed to detect pregnancies in two other species — lemon and tiger sharks. Such information is crucial as we can begin to learn more about the importance of Bimini's environs to gestating females and coupled with satellite tags track where they might pup," said Guttridge.
Last year, EIMI worked with Neil Hammerschlag, Ph.D., and the University of Miami on Tiger Shark research that was featured in Shark Week's Tiger Beach. This time EIMI was able to produce the world's first in-field images of pregnant tiger sharks.
For more information: www.eimedical.com