Let’s Talk About: Electric Eels

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http://arc-theatre.com/?page=1998-late-nights Electric eels almost don’t seem real.  I mean, no living creature should be able to produce 600 volts of electricity, right?  We don’t even get that power from wall sockets!  Yet electric eels can, and do just that.  It’s pretty shocking- like, they can kill small caimans shocking. Most people, however, don’t know any more about them than that they can produce electricity and turn Jamie Foxx into a shitty Spiderman villain.  So to spread some knowledge about these pretty incredible creatures, today we’re about electric eels.

follow link First things first, electric eels aren’t eels.  Electric eels are more closely related to knife fish, catfish, and carp, and only resemble the eels they borrow their name from (I know, it’s pretty stunning).  Adding to the weirdness of this fish, they’re not fully covered by scales, and don’t have gills, meaning they have to surface to breath every ten minutes.  On top of all of this, the fish can grow to be about 8 feet in length… think about that, that’s absolutely ridiculous.

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Really though, I do need to talk about their electrifying abilities.  As mentioned previously, electric eels are able to produce 600 volts of electricity thanks to specialized electricity producing organs.  These organs actually take up 80% of their bodies, with the other 20%, centred around their head, going to their vital organs.  These electrical organs don’t always work at full capacity, however, being able to produce a range of voltages.  They use this ability to produce a low electrical field around their body, which acts as a radar to compensate for their poor eyesight.  They’re kind of like living submarines.

What might be most interesting about their electric organs, though, is also what we least understand: how they don’t shock themselves (bet you never thought of that before).  Currently there are a few different theories, but no concrete answers.  Scientists believe that electric eels are either big enough to be unaffected by the shockwaves, safe in water, as the electricity dissipates too quickly, or they might be able to produce a type of protein in their skin that would act as an insulator.  Or, something else entirely- seriously, we really don’t know.

But those are electric eels for you.  Weird 8ft, eel-like fish, that produce a ton of electricity, but somehow don’t get hurt by it.  If you watt to know more about electric eels, be sure to check out these links: