Shark may have impregnated stingray at US aquarium

3 mins read

An aquarium in the US state of North Carolina has announced that they are investigating the mysterious pregnancy of a female stingray.

Last week, Team Ecco’s Aquarium and Shark Lab in Hendersonville announced on Facebook that Charlotte the stingray was pregnant.

The aquarium described the pregnancy as a “once-in-a-lifetime scientific mystery”, explaining that there were no male stingrays in the tank at the time the female stingray became pregnant.

The post, which included two photos of Charlotte and the puppies, said:

Our stingray Charlotte is expecting a baby! We haven’t shared this with anyone for over 3 months and we have ultrasound images confirmed by two of our supporters: Dr. Robert Jones from Zvet Aquarium in Australia and Becka Campbell, a PhD candidate at Arizona State University.

What’s really surprising is that we don’t have any male stingrays! We have several possible reasons for this phenomenon.

The aquarium told ABC 13 News that Charlotte could have become pregnant in two ways. One is a rare process called parthenogenesis, in which eggs develop on their own without fertilization, creating a clone of the mother.

According to Brenda Ramer, executive director of Team Ecco, the second possible explanation for the pregnancy is that Charlotte may have mated with one of the young sharks.

Ramer told the broadcaster:

  • In mid-July 2023, we moved two one-year-old white-spotted bamboo males (sharks) into that tank. There was nothing we could find out for sure about their maturation speed, so we didn’t think there would be any problems.

We started to notice bite marks on Charlotte but we saw that other fish were biting her, so we switched fish but the biting continued.

Speaking about the stingray and its future offspring, Ramer added

We’ll either have parthenogenesis offspring or some kind of potential hybrid and we’re waiting for Jeff Goldblum to show up because we’re in Jurassic Park right now!

Charlotte’s pregnancy was discovered in September after a “lump” was noticed in the animal, which they initially thought was cancer. The aquarium’s veterinarian, Dr. Robert Jones, later confirmed that the stingray was growing three or four eggs.

Ramer said that the female stingray was carrying about 4 babies and could give birth at any time.

Charlotte will be tested for DNA after she gives birth.

The Independent has reached out to Team Ecco’s Aquarium and Shark Lab for comment and more details about the pregnancy, but has not yet received a response.


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