Stingray will have ‘malicious birth’ with no mate as aquarium staff believe that a SHARK may have impregnated it

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Written By Maya Cantina
  • A North Carolina aquatic center has a pregnant female stingray 
  • However, there were no male stingrays in her tank
  • Staff think that the stingray, Charlotte, could have been impregnated by a male shark that was put in her tank in July 

A stingray at a North Carolina aquarium is expecting babies and staff believe that it could have been impregnated by a shark.

Charlotte the stingray at an aquarium and shark lab in Hendersonville could give birth any day now – but the pregnancy was a shock to everyone because there were no male stingrays in her tank.

The Aquarium and Shark Lab by Team ECCO noticed swelling in Charlotte back in September and thought that it could be cancer.

After performing ultrasounds on the stingray, the team realized that she was pregnant with multiple pups. 

‘We have been doing ultrasound on our ray, Charlotte, since September, when she began to swell. We documented multiple ‘growths’ internally and initially thought she had a cancer,’ staff member Ramer said on February 1. 

A stingray at a North Carolina aquarium is expecting babies and staff believe that it could have been impregnated by a shark

Charlotte the stingray at an aquarium and shark lab in Hendersonville could give birth any day now - but the pregnancy was a shock to everyone because there were no male sting rays in her tank

Charlotte the stingray at an aquarium and shark lab in Hendersonville could give birth any day now – but the pregnancy was a shock to everyone because there were no male sting rays in her tank

The Aquarium and Shark Lab by Team ECCO noticed swelling in Charlotte back in September and thought that it could be cancer . After performing ultrasounds on the stingray, the team realized that she was pregnant with multiple pups

The Aquarium and Shark Lab by Team ECCO noticed swelling in Charlotte back in September and thought that it could be cancer . After performing ultrasounds on the stingray, the team realized that she was pregnant with multiple pups

There are two possible explanations for the mystery impregnation – the first of which is a process known as ‘parthenogenesis.’

This is when eggs develop on their own without fertilization and create a clone of the mother.  

‘I reached out to Dr. Rob Jones, the aquarium vet, and he identified the growths as eggs,’ said Ramer. ‘We have no male ray. He said there have been few cases of parthenogenesis in rays.’ 

The other explanation for Charlotte’s pregnancy is crazy. 

Staff think that the female stingray could have been impregnated by one of the male one-year-old sharks they placed in her tank in mid-July.

‘In mid-July 2023, we moved two 1-year-old white spot bamboo males (sharks) into that tank. There was nothing we could find definitively about their maturation rate, so we did not think there would be an issue,’ Ramer said. 

‘We started to notice bite marks on Charlotte, but saw other fish nipping at her, so we moved fish, but the biting continued.’ 

Bite marks are an indicator of mating in sharks because the large fishes are know to bite during the mating process, another employee explained – adding that Charlotte had several bites on her fin edges.

Charlotte is carrying up to four pups and was expected to give birth around February 9 – although the birth has not taken place as of today (February 10).

DNA testing will take place on the pups once they’re born and aquarium staff will be able to determine whether they are a mixed breed or clones of their mother.

The gestation period in a stingray is usually three to four months. 

The creatures are flattened fish, that are closely related to sharks. They all belong to a group of fish called Elasmobranchs.

There are two possible explanations for the mystery impregnation - the first of which is a process known as 'parthenogenesis.' This is when eggs develop on their own without fertilization and create a clone of the mother

There are two possible explanations for the mystery impregnation – the first of which is a process known as ‘parthenogenesis.’ This is when eggs develop on their own without fertilization and create a clone of the mother

The other explanation for Charlotte's pregnancy is crazy. Staff think that the female stingray could have been impregnated by one of the male one-year-old sharks they placed in her tank in mid-July

The other explanation for Charlotte’s pregnancy is crazy. Staff think that the female stingray could have been impregnated by one of the male one-year-old sharks they placed in her tank in mid-July

Stingrays are unique as they have no bones in their body, their skeleton is instead made up of flexible cartilage. 

They are ovoviviparous, meaning that the pups are hatched from eggs that are held within the body. 

Many stingrays like to live by themselves and only come together for breeding and migration purposes. 

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