A brief investigation into whether Charlotte The Pregnant Ray is scamming us all | deserter

In February, when a North Carolina aquarium announced that its stingray, Charlotte, had become pregnant despite not having any contact with males in eight years, people began to speculate wildly about how she could having passed this virginal conception. The drama of Charlotte’s pregnancy was undoubtedly fueled by the way the aquarium announced it. Brenda Ramer, founder and executive director of the Aquarium & Shark Lab in Hendersonville, suggested the stingray may have “mated with one of these young male sharks,” to a breathless crowd from the 21st century pulpit aka on Facebook Live. Ray and shark biologists quickly debunked this theory, explaining that the most likely explanation for Charlotte’s conception was parthenogenesis, a form of reproduction in which a female develops an egg into an embryo, without the need for sperm. But something of a mystery would remain until Charlotte, the pregnant stingray, gave birth, which the aquarium predicted in February would happen “any day now”.

It’s now April, in fact, it’s almost never, and Charlotte hasn’t given birth. Her first ultrasound was in September, when staff noticed a bump, meaning she is about seven to eight months pregnant, twice the expected pregnancy for her species. The aquarium has been posting occasional updates on Charlotte’s status on Instagram to confirm that the stingray hasn’t given birth yet, but Charlotte’s many fans are getting belligerent. Two weeks ago, after the aquarium posted a reel with the text “Charlotte continues her journey with Parthenogenesis! She remains healthy and has a great appetite!” Commenters began hurling accusations not only at the aquarium, but at Charlotte herself, for catfishing us, leaving me wondering what the hell is going on in this tank. Why haven’t the puppies emerged? Did the aquarium make it all up, or is Charlotte the stingray faking pregnancy, manipulating us for extra meals? What follows is my rigorous investigation of the matter.

Theory 1: The aquarium invented everything!

I don’t want to slander anyone, human, ray or aquarium, but I also think it’s worth remembering that it was Ramer, the aquarium director, who suggested that one of the sharks in the tank might be the father of Charlotte’s pups and that their babies would be “some kind of potential mixed race.” Ramer later said it was a joke, but his suggestion spread like wildfire through the tabloids and is probably the only reason Charlotte’s story was covered so widely, even making it to All Things Considered . How many other parthenogenetic births are considered in the NPR? I was at a party a month ago where a Gen-Z guy I’d never met before asked me if I’d heard of the stingray that’s pregnant with baby sharks. I could not believe it! Charlotte had truly become a national story, generating awe among the general public and, no doubt, a ton of attention and money for the aquarium. (An Instagram reel of Charlotte swimming around her tank nets only has about 40,000 views, compared to a pathetic 5,700 views for a very cute video of Shelby the basking shark playing with a sea urchin.) When i read the daily mail story that highlighted the conspiracy theory that Charlotte’s pregnancy was actually a publicity stunt, I found myself nodding along.

But when I saw Charlotte’s latest footage from the aquarium, specifically an update where she shared that she’s doing well and has been feasting on scallops and baitfish called silversides, I found myself more sympathetic to the speculation. from Ramer. I’ve never seen a pregnant stingray, but there’s no way this stingray isn’t pregnant. It looks absolutely huge! Her bulge is not on her belly, as it is with human pregnancies, but on her back. No matter what the aquarium says, there’s no denying that Charlotte is significantly thicker than she was months ago, and they’re usually supposed to be thicker than round rays, which brings me to theory number two.

Theory 2: Charlotte scams us for snacks!

Increasingly in doubt, as Charlotte’s pregnancy remains unresolved, some commentators have begun to accuse the fish of tricking aquarium keepers for extra food. This theory seems half-baked, but to give it some due diligence, I scoured some aquarium keeper pages and forums to find out what an overweight stingray looks like. According to the Brevard Zoo, stingrays are very good at regulating your appetite. According to a commenter on the MonsterFishKeepers.com forums, “I can’t feed mine anymore when it’s full, it won’t eat, but that’s just me.” Given this preponderance of evidence, I’m kidding! it seems unlikely that Charlotte is suddenly increasing her fat stores. Also, the aquarists did an ultrasound which they said revealed at least one pup, so unless the deception goes further than we think and some dodgy ultrasound technician got a bag of sand money unmarked to detect some images, the most likely scenario would seem to be that Charlotte is actually pregnant, and not just bloated and swindling for a snack.

Theory 3: Charlotte is still pregnant and taking her time, so leave her alone!

Many years ago, I saw a video of a stingray giving birth, which was filmed by 12-year-old Australian nature vlogger Miller Wilson. As Wilson explains in the video, he was wading along the banks of a creek for his favorite spotting spot when he came across a huge female sitting in the shallows. About four minutes into the video, he turns the stingray upside down, hugs it, and pulls out 12 babies by the tail, which float in the shallows as Wilson flips them up. Wilson claims the stingray needed help giving birth, which I can’t say it doesn’t no true, but it’s something I take with a grain of salt given that this statement was made by a child.

If Charlotte is more than half a year pregnant, might she need help giving birth? To research this, I googled “how to induce labor in a stingray” and found an article by Ben Goldfarb in Hakai magazine about how being caught can induce premature labor in rays and sharks. The term is officially called capture-induced birth, and it occurs when humans capture and handle rays and sharks and release their babies prematurely. While puppies may be perfectly shaped, being born prematurely is likely a death sentence, Goldfarb wrote. Scientists aren’t entirely sure why the fish do this, whether it’s an opportunity to give the babies a shot at life if the mother knows she’s doomed, or simply the result of an overload of hormones from the ‘stress that causes the mother to lose control of her bodily functions. In retrospect, it seems quite possible that Wilson’s well-meaning midwife caused the stressed, pregnant ray to abort her pups.

All of this means that removing Charlotte’s pups before she’s ready to give birth could doom the baby rays. There’s no way to rush the truth, and Charlotte is a single mother who deserves our grace and respect. We have to wait for Charlotte to leave her children when she is ready. Until then, eat all the scallops and platforms you want.

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Image Source : defector.com

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