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What happens next as stingray sparks concern after getting pregnant with no mates in her tank

What happens next as stingray sparks concern after getting pregnant with no mates in her tank

Experts are baffled as to how the sting ray got pregnant

A stingray in the States has baffled experts after getting pregnant despite having not come into contact with a male partner.

Staff at The Aquarium and Shark Lab in North Carolina were initially concerned that Charlotte the stingray had cancer after they noticed some swelling around her abdomen.

They decided to do an ultrasound and were shocked after discovering she's actually pregnant.

After hearing about Charlotte's condition, many are wondering what will happen next, and how the stingray could be pregnant in the first place.

Well, Charlotte - who is due to give birth to her four pups any time - is being closely monitored as the team draw up a plan on what to do when she gives birth.

Experts are currently considering something called Parthenogenesis, which is an unusual and rare phenomenon in which an egg develops without being fertilised, effectively making a clone of its mother.

But parthenogenesis isn’t the only theory. Staff believe that Charlotte could have been impregnated by one of the male one-year-old sharks that was placed in the same tank as her back in the summer.

Experts carried out an ultrasound on the stingray.

“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," said staff member, Ramer.

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

“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.”

Bite marks can be an indication of mating in sharks, as the fish are known for nipping at each other during the mating season.

Charlotte the stingray is set to give birth imminently.

Once the offspring are born, the team will carry out DNA tests to establish if they are part shark, or fully stingray.

Stingrays are closely related to sharks so it's not totally out of the question that they could have mated.

The gestation period is typically three to four months and while Charlotte's due date was February 9, she still hasn't given birth.

Meanwhile, the gestation period of a shark can be anything from nine months to two years.

Featured Image Credit: Team ECCO

Topics: Animals, US News