A stingray in a North Carolina aquarium unexpectedly became pregnant despite there not being a male in her tank. There are theories about how this happened, including the possibility that a male shark could be the father or that the stingray experienced parthenogenesis.
The Aquarium and Shark Lab by Team Ecco in Hendersonville initially thought the swelling in the stingray was due to cancer. However, an ultrasound revealed that the growths were eggs which led to much confusion among the staff. April Smith, the lab’s executive director, wrote in a blog post that parthenogenesis, a process where a female can produce an embryo asexually, could be a possible explanation.
This phenomenon is a survival mechanism and typically occurs in situations where no males are present. Another theory emerged when bite marks were noticed on the stingray, raising the possibility that she was mated with by one of the two male sharks she shared her tank with.
With the most recent ultrasound showing the stingray is pregnant with two, possibly three pups, the possibility of interbreeding between sharks and stingrays due to their close relation was considered. The animal is expected to give birth soon, and updates will be posted on the aquarium’s website and Facebook page.