‘Science Mystery’: Stingray impregnated by a shark in North Carolina?


Nearly a week ago, Aquarium & Shark Lab by Team ECCO in Hendersonville, North Carolina, disclosed its stingray Charlotte is expecting. The news was outed in a Facebook post on Tuesday. They declared it a “once-in-a-lifetime science mystery” because Charlotte had been impregnated without the involvement of any male stingrays.

A child looks at a stingray at Manila Ocean Park in Manila on February 8, 2024. (Photo by JAM STA ROSA / AFP)(AFP)

The aquarium had kept this news a secret for the past three months. Dr Robert Jones, the Australian Aquarium vet, and Becka Campbell, PhD candidate at Arizona State University confirmed the revelation through ultrasound images.

Discover the thrill of cricket like never before, exclusively on HT. Explore now!

How was Stingray Charlotte impregnated?

In their conversation with ABC 13 News, the North Carolina aquarium stated that there are two ways in which their stingray could’ve become pregnant.

The first process called for a rare asexual reproduction method – Parthenogenesis. According to this natural form of asexual reproduction, fertilisation isn’t needed for the eggs to develop an embryo. The aquarium also explained that if this is how the process went, then Charlotte’s pups would be her clones.

Also read: Scientists study levels of toxic mercury in Antarctic seals, whales

Team ECCO’s executive director, Brenda Ramer, proposed a second possible way this could’ve happened. If not for the asexual reproduction method, then Charlotte could’ve been impregnated by a 1-year-old male white spot bamboo shark. While no male stingrays were found in the same tank as hers, this shark had been moved there in July 2023.

Ramer added that they moved the other fish nipping at her when they noticed bite marks on Charlotte (spotted on the edge of her fins). However, the issue persisted. The executive director also confirmed that bite marks were a sign of mating of sharks.

Charlotte’s pregnancy came to light in September as the aquarium staff noticed “swelling”. They initially misinterpreted it as cancer. Dr Robert Jones eventually confirmed that the stingray had three to four growing eggs. The aquarium is expecting her to give birth to four pups anytime soon. Stingrays’ gestation period spans about three to four months.

It’s yet to be announced if Charlotte’s pups are of a “potential mixed breed”, which will be discovered upon birth only. DNA testing will help confirm these doubts.

As people continue making personal remarks on the aquarium’s Facebook page, the staff recently released another statement. “With all of the interest and chaos surrounding Charlotte, I am going to ask that you please do not use our platform for wonder and research to make a personal stand or comments to prove yourself and your knowledge to other readers… Just because something has not happened or has not been documented does not make it impossible. Science is discovery…”, said Aquarium & Shark Lab by Team ECCO.

#Science #Mystery #Stingray #impregnated #shark #North #Carolina