Was Charlotte The Stingray Ever Pregnant? Marine Biologist Chimes In!

Was Charlotte The Stingray Ever Pregnant? Marine Biologist Chimes In!

Charlotte the stingray is STILL pregnant. Or at least that's what Team ECCO, the aquarium she calls home, is making everyone think with their sporadic updates.

Many TikTokers are completely invested in Charlotte's really long parthenogenesis pregnancy, and not satisfied with random updates that share nothing new.

One of the content creators who talks a lot about Charlotte, Stephanie Rzonca who goes by Spellbound Stitchery on the app, recently spoke to a marine biologist to get more insight on the situation.

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Stephanie Rzonca Talked To A Marine Biologist About Charlotte's Situation

Charlotte the StingrayTikTok | Team ECCO

Rzonca recently had a conversation with a marine biologist to see if she could get more insight into Charlotte's odd situation.

"I just got off a call with Larry. He is one of the marine biologists who has been helping me understand the Charlotte the stingray situation," she said in a TikTok video shared on Tuesday. "He and I sat down for a Zoom meeting together, where I got to ask him all of my burning questions, just about how the industry works and why did this happen? And what did marine biologists have as far as contact with Team ECCO?"

She said that Larry was able to be "really candid" with her and was able to shed some light on what was going on.

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In the first part of her Zoom meeting video series, after Larry explained how he became a marine biologist, the two spoke about the communication between Team ECCO and the marine biology community.

"I think you or some other communicators have alluded to a sort of private communication system that aquariums use. And it's a communication system to share ideas, ask questions, but it is considered a private communications channel," he said.

"I don't really know the history of how Team ECCO became a member of that group but they were, and are as far as I know still."

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Larry First Heard About Charlotte's Situation In February

Larry first heard about Charlotte when Team ECCO shared a press release with the group that led with the news that Charlotte could be pregnant with a shark's baby.

"That really is a huge red flag for a biologist or anyone with training, it's sort of the equivalent of someone saying your cat and dog are having kittens together. Just not really a rational thing to say," he said. "There were some other things in there. I believe at that time a mention of parthenogenesis, which is a phenomenon sometimes referred to as self-fertilization. It's not exactly cloning, but it is a female producing an offspring with no male input."

Larry said that parthenogenesis has been seen in a "number of sharks and rays," but not observed in the species that Charlotte is a part of, the California round rays.

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Larry revealed that he wrote a response in the private channel suggesting that Charlotte's pregnancy was much more likely that she might have some health issues that were "mimicking pregnancy." He also suggested that Charlotte be seen by a qualified veterinarian.

Larry continued to explain that a lot of misinformation was spreading online and Team ECCO never tried to correct anyone.

"The shark daddy thing just would not go away," he said. "You still hear people say it today, and it's just for somebody that has a biology background, I just cringe every time I hear it. It's just so ludicrous."

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Team ECCO 'Seemed To Bask In All The Attention' On Social Media

The second video in the Zoom meeting series started off by explaining some issues with Charlotte's story.

"One of the problems with the Charlotte story is every story in February started with the assumption that Charlotte was pregnant," he continued. "And the only place we got that information was from the facility. The same facility that already put out clearly incorrect scientific information."

Most conversations since February have been based on the idea that Charlotte is pregnant.

"I would argue we've never had a veterinarian verify that pregnancy," Larry said. "We're in the situation now of building on that and we just, you know, maybe it's always possible there are vets involved that are not public. And that's why I think it's really important to be careful about not diagnosing an animal's condition without information."

Larry also revealed that many privately owned facilities don't have regular veterinarian care as part of their program.

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'A Lot Of Misinformation And Misrepresentation' Happened

"One of the things you'll see over and over in this story, it's not new but I think it might be educational for people, is so early on there was a discussion of parthenogenesis, and they went to a scientist who described the process of parthenogenesis. Never said this is what's happening with Charlotte. Just said, it is possible for sharks and rays to go through parthenogenesis," Larry explained.

"You will not find a scientist saying, at least on the record, I even looked back at this, saying Charlotte is going through parthenogenesis."

He also explained how the messages have been misconstrued in the media through a snowball effect of bits and pieces of information found online.

A Chat About Animal Advocacy And Animal Welfare Oversight

Larry explained that there's not a lot of "legal protection for animals" in a situation such as Charlotte's.

"The Charlotte story is very unusual, not because of the way this animal is being treated, but because of the national attention it has received," he said.

"And there's a million Charlottes in the country right now that are at these kind of facilities. They may be healthy right now, but they're still not getting regular veterinary care."

Many of Rzonca's viewers were happy to finally get information from a marine biologist about Charlotte's situation.

"I'm so happy you stumbled upon this situation. You're doing so much and we appreciate you for it," one person wrote in the comment section of one of the videos.

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Another person asked, "So they just assumed she was pregnant? Regardless she got a big belly soooo something is happening here," to which Rzonca replied, "Definitely. She needs a vet! Like a year ago!"