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Aquarium baffled after stingray mysteriously gets pregnant despite no males being in the tanks
Featured Image Credit: Team ECCO

Aquarium baffled after stingray mysteriously gets pregnant despite no males being in the tanks

Staff are unsure how the pregnancy occurred, but there are some theories

Researchers in North Carolina think that something fishy is going on with one of the pregnant stingrays at an aquarium.

Charlotte the stingray is pregnant, but there's a twist - There's not actually any male stingrays in her tank... so how could this have happened?

Staff at Aquarium and Shark Lab by Team Ecco in Hendersonville thought that Charlotte's swollen tummy could have been cancer when they noticed it back in September, but examinations have revealed that the creature is in fact pregnant.

Puzzled staff have revealed that there's two possible ways the stingray could have gotten pregnant, but they won't be able to tell for real until the pups (how cute) are born.

Charlotte's ultrasound.
Aquarium & Shark Lab by Team ECCO/Facebook

One of the ways is via a super rare process known as parthenogenesis. This process causes the eggs to develop on their own without fertilization, creating an exact clone of their mother - crazy right?

The other way is the typical birds and the bees... or should we say the stingrays and sharks?

Brenda Ramer, the aquarium’s founder and executive director, said: “In mid-July 2023, we moved two one-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.”

“We started to notice bite marks on Charlotte, but saw other fish nipping at her, so we moved fish, but the biting continued,” she added.

Ramer then explained that bite marks are a clear indicator of mating for sharks and Charlotte had several of them on her fin edges. Perhaps we've found just the culprit...

Charlotte in her tank.
Aquarium & Shark Lab by Team ECCO/Facebook

Ramer believes that the expectant mom could be carrying up to four stingray pups and is due to deliver the babies at any time, since the typical gestation period for a stingray is three to four months.

The aquarium will likely test the pups' DNA to find out where the miraculous babies actually came from, but until then it remains a mystery.

The team will continue to post updates on Charlotte's pregnancy progress and the pups when they arrive over on their Facebook page.

As well as Charlotte and her expectant pups, Team ECCO post about the other sea creatures in their care, including clown fish and sea lions.

Topics: Animals, Science