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

  • An aquatic center in North Carolina has a pregnant female stingray
  • However, there were no stingrays in her tank
  • Staff believe the little girl, 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 it may 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 came as a shock to everyone because there were no male sticklebacks in her tank.

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

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

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

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

A stingray at a North Carolina aquarium is expecting babies and staff believe it may 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 came as 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 came as 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 in September and thought it might be cancer.  After performing ultrasounds on the stingray, the team realized that she was pregnant with several pups

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

There are two possible explanations for the mysterious fertilization – 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 veterinarian, and he identified the growths as eggs,” Ramer said. ‘We have no male ray. He said there were few cases of parthenogenesis in rays.’

The other explanation for Charlotte’s pregnancy is crazy.

Staff believe the female arrowtail may have been impregnated by one of the male yearling sharks they placed in her tank in mid-July.

‘In mid-July 2023, we moved two 1-year-old white-spotted bamboo males (sharks) into that tank. There was nothing we could find definitively about their aging rate, so we didn’t think there would be a problem,’ Ramer said.

“We started noticing bite marks on Charlotte but saw other fish snapping at her so we moved fish but the bites continued.”

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

Charlotte is carrying up to four cubs and was expected to give birth around February 9 – although the birth did not take place today (February 10).

DNA testing will be done on the pups once they are born and aquarium staff will be able to determine if they are mixed breed or clones of their mother.

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

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

There are two possible explanations for the mysterious fertilization - 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 mysterious fertilization – 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 the female darter may have been impregnated by one of the male yearling sharks they placed in her tank in mid-July

The other explanation for Charlotte’s pregnancy is crazy. Staff think the female darter may have been impregnated by one of the male yearling sharks they placed in her tank in mid-July

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

They are ovoviviparous, meaning the young are hatched from eggs held inside the body.

Many rays like to live alone and only come together for breeding and migration purposes.