Home » Mystery in American aquarium: Stingray is pregnant, but there is no male in the tank

Mystery in American aquarium: Stingray is pregnant, but there is no male in the tank

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Zookeepers at an American aquarium eagerly await the birth of one of their stingrays. The animal is pregnant, but there is no male of her species in the tank.

Zookeepers at an aquarium in North Carolina, USA, were concerned when they noticed a growth on one of their rays in September. Initially they thought stingray Charlotte might have cancer. But after an ultrasound it turned out that the ray is pregnant.

Good news, you might think. But there is one problem: there is no male ray in the aquarium at all.

According to the caregivers, there are two possible scenarios. On the one hand, there could be parthenogenesis. This is a form of asexual reproduction, in which females of certain animal species are able to produce offspring without the help of a male. According to the aquarium’s veterinarian, there have been a number of cases of such reproduction in rays.

But zookeepers fear there may be another explanation. They believe that Charlotte may have been impregnated by one of the male sharks. “In mid-July 2023, we placed two 1-year-old (male, ed.) white-spotted bamboo sharks in that tank. We couldn’t find anything definitive about their degree of maturity, so we didn’t think there would be a problem,” says caretaker Ramer. “We started seeing bite marks on Charlotte. We saw other fish snapping at her, so we moved those fish. But the biting continued.” According to the keepers, such bite marks could be a signal of mating sharks.

Charlotte would be carrying at least four little ones and could give birth at any moment. But the question is what the little ones will look like. Aquarium staff will perform DNA testing on the new arrivals to determine if they are clones of the mother (as would be the case with parthenogenesis) or if they are mixed breed.

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