uShaka Sea World’s new ultrasound machine a first for Africa

For more than 20 years uShaka Sea World’s animal health team has used ultrasound examinations as a diagnostic tool for large marine mammals, fish and reptiles. However, the arrival of a new, state-of-the-art, portable ultrasound machine, complete with an organic light-emitting diode (OLED) high-resolution headset, was cause for much celebration.

Jabu the seal undergoes an ultrasound examination by veterinarian Dr Caryl Knox as Gavin Mitchell and Michelle Broughton of BCF Technology look on. (Image: uShaka Sea World)

“This new OLED headset will give us the opportunity to examine our animals more efficiently in the comfort of their exhibits, even in bright sunlight. In the past I have always struggled with the glare of the sun when working outside,” said uShaka Sea World veterinarian Dr Caryl Knox.  

All the mammals have been trained to lie motionless to allow the veterinarians to examine internal organs such as lungs, bladder and kidneys. Carrying out such examinations enables the animal health team to keep a close, non-invasive eye on the health of the animals.

Although expensive, the new ultrasound not only enables the veterinarians to work in the sun but, since it has significantly higher resolution than the old machine, allows for more accurate assessment of organs. It has the added benefit of being able to store images for later analysis and comparison.

According to Gavin Mitchell of UK-based BCF Technology, suppliers of the equipment, the OLED headset is the first of its kind to be used on the African continent. 

“This is a huge step forward, not only for uShaka Sea World, but for veterinarians throughout Africa,” said Mitchell.

The equipment forms a vital part of the routine animal health care processes carried out at uShaka Sea World and will help the team ensure the best possible care for our animals.

Kelpie the dolphin waits for an ultrasound from veterinarian Dr Caryl Knox, observed by animal behaviourist Kerry Cahill and Gavin Mitchell of BCF Technology. (Image: uShaka Sea World)

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