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The North Star Online

The official news site of J.W. North High School

The North Star Online

The official news site of J.W. North High School

The North Star Online

Baby Shark-Ray Born?

Dean Hensley
Aquarium and Shark Lab by Team ECCO assistant director Kinsley Boyette poses with Charlotte, a stingray that is about to give birth through parthenogenesis

In North Carolina, a shocking discovery was made at The Aquarium and Shark Lab by Team Ecco on February 8th. 

The aquarium has one lone stingray resident, whom the staff have named Charlotte. Charlotte has been without a mate for eight years due to the aquarium’s lack of male stingrays, meaning she has failed to reproduce until recently. 

On February 8th, the aquarium made a public announcement describing Charlotte’s mysterious pregnancy, leading audiences across the internet to wonder how a stingray could become pregnant without a mate. Rumors and theories alike began to spiral, until one stood out above the rest: What if Charlotte wasn’t impregnated by another stingray? 

Two main theories began to emerge, one being that a shark may have impregnated Charlotte. Part of a shark’s mating cycle involves the male shark biting the female shark. It just so happens that bite marks were rumored to be found on Charlotte around the time of the pregnancy announcement. This led audiences around the world to wonder if the world was getting their first-ever, baby shark-stingray hybrid, otherwise nicknamed the “shark-ray”.  

The second theory is that Charlotte is going through the rare process of asexual reproduction, or parthenogenesis. This is the method of offspring developing from unfertilized eggs, which allows the female to get pregnant without being impregnated by a male mate, which would describe Charlotte’s situation perfectly. 

The small aquarium began providing weekly updates on Wednesdays and Saturdays regarding their stingray celebrity to appease popular demand. After careful studies, the shark-ray theory was debunked and it became official that Charlotte would become the first known stingray to give birth via parthenogenesis. However, the following question continued to resurface: When will Charlotte give birth? To respond to such a question, the aquarium’s assistant director, Kinsley Boyette told fans, “Charlotte’s pregnancy is a unique situation. There is no set precedent on how long a parthenogenetic pregnancy is in this species. Charlotte is the first known documented California round stingray to do parthenogenesis in captivity.” 

According to Boytte, once Charlotte does eventually give birth, her pups will be transferred to a separate nursery tank where they can be observed by aquarium staff. Many believe that due to the pups’ DNA coming from solely Charlotte, they will be exact copies of her. Tara Kegan was one of the first people to visit the aquarium to study Charlotte, and she adds to this theory by saying, “This specifically will be such a unique opportunity to see her give birth to clones.”

For now, the community of Hendersonville and Charlotte’s growing fan club on social media awaits the stingray’s birth and the welcoming of baby pups to the aquarium. In the meantime, Charlotte will be closely monitored and taken care of by the aquarium staff as we wait for her birth announcement!

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