Charlotte, the pregnant stingray with no male partner, has a 'rare reproductive disease'

Charlotte became an internet sensation when the aquarium announced she was carrying multiple pups despite only sharing her tank with two sharks.
Charlotte the Stingray
Posted at 9:34 AM, Jun 04, 2024

A female stingray who gained national attention after she became pregnant despite not sharing a tank with a male stingray has developed a rare reproductive disease, according to the aquarium in North Carolina where she resides.

In an update posted to social media last week, the Aquarium & Shark Lab by Team ECCO in Hendersonville said, “The reports show that Charlotte has developed a rare reproductive disease that has negatively impacted her reproductive system.”

“The findings are truly a sad and unexpected medical development,” the team added.

Charlotte became an internet sensation when the aquarium announced in February she was carrying multiple pups despite only sharing a 2,200-gallon tank with two sharks.

A captive stingray named Charolette

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Captive stingray who doesn’t share her tank with male ray is pregnant

Kathleen St. John
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Theories surrounding her immaculate conception took off: Did she mate with a shark to create an impossible and unfathomable crossbreed? Was it a case of asexual reproduction? Or was Charlotte a reincarnation of the Virgin Mary?

Experts said it was most likely a case of parthenogenesis, which is when an embryo develops directly from an unfertilized egg without the need for a male. The phenomenon is not as rare as you might think in the animal kingdom.

When the aquarium shared the update in February with a video of Charlotte’s ultrasound, it was said she was nearing the end of her three-month gestation period.

The world waited anxiously for Charlotte to give birth. Four months later, the aquarium apologized for the delayed update — though it wasn’t the one everyone was hoping for.

It’s not clear if the diagnosed reproductive disease has caused Charlotte to lose her unborn pups or if she was never pregnant to begin with, based on the aquarium’s latest statement.

Team ECCO said, “We will work with, and be guided by, veterinarians and specialists to better understand this disease and the treatment options for Charlotte. While the research of this disease is limited, we hope that Charlotte’s case and medical treatment will positively contribute to science and be of benefit to other rays in the future.”