Mystery Behind Pregnant Stingray With No Male Companion Will Have You Hooked

A female stingray named Charlotte is pregnant—even though she hasn't shared her aquarium tank with a male of her species in at least eight years.

By Gabrielle Chung Feb 15, 2024 11:30 PMTags
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An aquarium in North Carolina is left stunned after their stingray became pregnant without any interactions from males of her species.

Charlotte—a round stingray estimated to be between 12 and 16 years old—is carrying as many as four pups despite being the only stingray living in her tank, according to the Aquarium & Shark Lab by Team ECCO in Hendersonville. The pregnancy was confirmed when specialists performed an ultrasound on Charlotte after noticing some swelling on her body. 

"Our stingray, Charlotte, is expecting!" a Feb. 6 Facebook post from the aquarium read. "The really amazing thing is we have no male ray!"

Indeed, Charlotte is a single lady who has not had another male stingray in her tank for at least eight years, per the Associated Press. She does, however, have two bamboo sharks named Moe and Larry for tankmates.

So, could one of them be the dad? Don't go running to Maury Povich just yet. 

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"We should set the record straight," Dr. Kady Lyons, a marine research scientist who is not involved in the Aquarium & Shark Lab, told AP, "that there aren't some shark-ray shenanigans happening here."

Instead, she said it's likely that Charlotte has undergone parthenogenesis, a type of asexual reproduction in which an embryo develops without fertilization from sperm. 

The phenomenon can occur in amphibians, birds, reptiles and fish such as sharks, skates and—of course—rays.

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"I'm not surprised, because nature finds a way of having this happen," Lyon said. "We don't know why it happens. Just that it's kind of this really neat phenomenon that they seem to be able to do."

And Charlotte is due "any day now," according to Kinsley Boyette, the assistant director of the Aquarium and Shark Lab by Team ECCO.

"We are on pup watch," Boyette told local paper Hendersonville Times-News on Feb. 14, adding that Charlotte "will do whatever she wants to do."

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