Charlotte, the pregnant stingray, draws global attention to western NC aquarium

A stingray’s mysterious pregnancy is drawing global attention to a small aquarium in the mountains of North Carolina, ABC affiliate WLOS reported.

The Aquarium and Shark Lab by Team ECCO in downtown Hendersonville has an expectant stingray named Charlotte in their care.

Staff members said there had been no male stingrays in the tank with Charlotte, so it was a surprise when they discovered she was pregnant.

There are two ways Charlotte could have gotten pregnant:

  1. A rare process called parthenogenesis, in which the eggs develop on their own without fertilization and create a clone of the mother.
  2. Staff theorized Charlotte could have mated with one of the young sharks that were added to the tank in July.

Charlotte’s mysterious pregnancy has captured the attention and curiosity of people worldwide ever since the aquarium shared the news in early February.

The aquarium and shark lab were flooded with curious onlookers through the weekend.

“It has gone beyond and above anything we could have even begun to imagine,” Brenda Ramer, founder and executive director of Team ECCO, said. “We figured it would spark interest, but we thought it would spark locally. But then as the news spreads we have come to find out that, potentially, this is the first occurrence of parthenogenesis in a California round ray that’s been documented in captivity.”

She said the aquarium averages around 70-75 visitors a day when they are open.