Charlotte the virgin stingray set to give birth following concerns over pups' health

Charlotte the virgin stingray is still set to give birth Credit: AP

Charlotte the virgin stingray is set to give birth at any moment, according to the aquarium team that cares for her.

The Aquarium & Shark Lab in North Carolina said over the weekend they can confirm the rust-coloured stingray and her four pups are in good health after getting results from the latest ultrasound.

"We are still patiently awaiting Charlotte’s delivery," the aquarium wrote on Facebook alongside a video of Charlotte.

"The ultrasound we sent to our colleagues looked good and there were no signs of any distress. We will share new developments as they come along."

The update comes after increasing pressure from the public for more information about Charlotte's condition - with some experts even speculating that her unborn young may have died.

Back in February, the aquarium's owners forecast that she may give birth within two weeks.

But as time went on with no update, skepticism surrounding the health of the pregnant stingray ensued. The typical gestation period in a stingray is 3 to 4 months.

Charlotte, who has lived at the aquarium since 2016, became the centre of a media storm in February after it was announced that she was pregnant - despite having no contact with male stingrays for almost a decade.

This phenomenon, where an animal essentially impregnates herself, is termed "parthenogenesis".

It occurs when a female uses her own unfertilised eggs to create a genetically complete clone in the absence of males of her own species.

Kinsley Boyette, assistant director of the Aquarium and Shark Lab by Team ECCO, poses next to Charlotte. Credit: AP

This form of reproduction can be experienced by some inspects, fish, amphibians, birds and reptiles, although Charlotte's case is the only documented example of the phenomenon occurring in a stingray, according to a research scientist at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta.

Whilst parthenogenesis is the most likely explanation, this has not been officially confirmed.

The small aquarium is run by an educational nonprofit, Team ECCO, which encourages local schoolchildren and others to take an interest in science.

They now plan to double the size of Charlotte's tank, which is currently around 2,200 gallons, to make room for the new arrivals.


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