On Tuesday, The Aquarium & Shark Lab by Team ECCO in Hendersonville, North Carolina announced in a Facebook post that its stingray Charlotte is pregnant.
There are no male stingrays in the tank with her.
The Aquarium and Shark Lab by Team ECCO in Hendersonville, North Carolina, is the only ocean education lab and hands-on marine study center in the WNC mountains and the Upstate of South Carolina.
Speaking to ABCNews13, the founder and executive director of Team ECCO named Brenda Ramer, conveyed two possible explanations for the stingray's pregnancy.
One is a very rare process called parthenogenesis, in which the eggs develop on their own without fertilization and create a clone of the mother. Team ECCO has experience with parthenogenesis, as the shark lab's female bamboo shark has undergone the process 14 times. However, it's much more common in sharks than stingrays.“It’s a once in a bluest of blue moons experience," Ramer said of parthenogenesis with a stingray.
The other explanation could also explain the bite marks on Charlotte's back. "In mid-July 2023, we moved two 1-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," Ramer said. "We started to notice bite marks on Charlotte, but saw other fish nipping at her, so we moved fish, but the biting continued."Brenda said bite marks are an indicator of mating in sharks.
Nature is so crazy, right? The team has posted video of Charlotte's ultrasound on Facebook.
Facts About Stingray Pregnancies
The time a stingray is typically pregnancy is around 4 to 6 months. Most stingrays are ovoviviparous, which means that the embryos develop inside eggs within the mother's body until they are ready to be born.
After birth, stingray pups are usually independent and do not receive parental care from their mothers. The aquarium also reported that DNA testing will likely be conducted on the pups after birth to determine whether they are a mixed breed or are, indeed, clones of their mother.
The Aquarium and Shark Lab by Team ECCO is working to set up a live stream of the tank so as many people as possible can see the pups when they are born. We will absolutely be checking that out! How incredible and best of luck to Charlotte on her pregnancy!
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