Scientists at an aquarium in North Carolina were baffled when a stingray gave birth to pups despite there being no male in her tank. The Aquarium and Shark Lab by Team Ecco in Hendersonville reported that the stingray developed eggs, leading to concerns that she may have cancer. After an ultrasound, the lab’s executive director concluded that the growths were indeed eggs.
One possible explanation for the pregnancy is parthenogenesis, a process in which a female can produce an embryo asexually without an egg being fertilized with sperm. This survival mechanism is used to preserve species when no males are present, such as in captivity or remote areas of the deep sea.
However, another theory emerged after scientists noticed bite marks on the stingray. The stingray shared her tank with two male sharks. One theory suggests that one of the male sharks may have mated with the stingray, resulting in her giving birth to two to three pups. However, genetic tests need to be conducted after birth to confirm this theory.
Interbreeding between sharks and stingrays is theoretically possible due to their close taxonomic relationship. The staff at the aquarium is eagerly awaiting the birth of the pups and plans to update their website and Facebook page with regular updates on progress.
In conclusion, while parthenogenesis may be one possible explanation for this unique phenomenon, further investigation is needed before we can fully understand how this occurred in captivity. As scientists continue their research on this topic, it remains to be seen whether other species may also exhibit similar reproductive strategies under certain conditions or if this is a one-of-a-kind occurrence among marine animals.