Feb 20, 2024 - News

Pregnant North Carolina stingray with no mate rises to internet fame

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Photo: George Rose/Getty Images

A stingray in a Hendersonville aquarium is pregnant — even though she hasn't felt the touch of a fellow ray in years.

Why it matters: This mysterious pregnancy in a North Carolina mountain town has captured the world's attention.

  • It's one of the most talked-about animal pregnancies since that giraffe who gave birth on a livestream a few years back.
  • TikTokers and scientists alike are chiming in on Charlotte the stingray's bun in the oven. National news outlets are investigating: "Who's the father?" one headline reads.

What's happening: Officials at the Aquarium and Shark Lab first noticed a lump on Charlotte's back, AP reported. Since she hadn't shared a tank with a male stingray in at least eight years, they presumed it was a tumor or a case of overindulging at lunchtime.

  • An ultrasound confirms she is expecting. But Charlotte's only been in the presence of two sharks, Moe and Larry. This led some to speculate she could be expecting shark-ray babies.

Reality check: It's impossible a shark impregnated the stingray, experts say. What's likely happening is a super rare asexual reproduction phenomenon called parthenogenesis, according to Forbes.

  • Some insects, fish, amphibians, birds and reptiles can develop offspring from unfertilized eggs without the help of a male.
  • 💭 My thought bubble: We love this girl boss behavior from Charlotte. She does not need a man.

The intrigue: This would be the first documented case of parthenogenesis for Charlotte's species, Hendersonville Times-News reports.

What's next: Charlotte could pop out up to four pups any day now.

  • The aquarium is sharing Charlotte's journey on Facebook.

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