Pregnant Stingray Teaches Unusual Biology Lesson

Charlotte has lived most of her life in captivity at the Appalachian Mountains non-profit aquarium in North Carolina. She is a round stingray, a type of marine animal. Her natural habitat, which is in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of southern California, is almost 3,700 kilometers away. It has been at least eight years since she last shared quarters with a male member of her species. Charlotte, though, is going to give birth. The reddish-brown stingray can give birth to up to four pups during her pregnancy. They were produced through parthenogenesis, an uncommon kind of spontaneous reproduction. An egg is developed into an embryo by a female mammal without the use of male fertilization material.At home, at Team ECCO Aquarium and Shark Lab on Main Street in Hendersonville, Charlotte will give birth to her young. The organization’s founder and head is Brenda Ramer.


She added that when Charlotte’s caregivers initially found a bump on her back, they believed it to be a malignant tumor. So they used an ultrasound equipment, which uses sound to create images, to inspect the animal. The pictures proved Charlotte was expecting. The staff at the aquarium was taken aback. Shut the rear door, we all said. There’s just no way,” Ramer remarked. “We believed we were feeding her too much. However, because she has more mouths to feed, we were overfeeding her.


Local kids and others are inspired to pursue an interest in science by the little aquarium. They are now learning a lesson from real life that few people see. Although it is very uncommon, parthenogenesis can occur in certain insects, fish, amphibians, birds, and reptiles. Yellow-bellied water snakes, Komodo dragons, and California condors are among the documented cases. Research scientist Kady Lyons works at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. She has nothing to do with the aquarium in North Carolina. According to her, Charlotte’s pregnancy is the only known instance of parthenogenesis in a round stingray.Lyons, though, is unsurprised. Pregnancies of this type have been observed in similar animals, including sharks, and other types of rays while in human care.

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