In this blog, we are going to understand What is an Electric Eel?, and how do Electric Eels Work. And its Physical Characteristics and some more important information which is crucial to know about it.
What is an Electric Eel?
Large fish known as “electric eels” are found all over South America and are capable of generating up to 600 volts of electricity.
The majority of the body’s organs are what generate the electricity. For them, electricity plays a crucial role in daily life. They employ this ability to hunt in murky water, defend themselves, navigate, and interact with nearby eels. Freshwater carnivorous fish include electric eels or Electrophorus electricus. They can get quite large, reaching heights of 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4 meters) and weighing up to 44 pounds (20 kg). They can live up to 15 years, making them a fish with a fairly long lifespan.
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Electric Eel: Physical Characteristics
Electric eels are intriguing because, despite their name, they are not true eels. They share a greater genetic affinity with species of carp and catfish than with true eels. The only reason they were given the name “eel” was because of how much their body shape resembles an eel.
They have long, cylindrical bodies that resemble eels in many ways. Their total body length can exceed 8 feet (2.4 meters).
Compared to their round bodies, their heads are much flatter. They typically have a lighter yellowish color on their underside and a dark green or gray dorsal side. Their bodies are entirely smooth and devoid of scales.
Organ of an Electric Eel
The interior of an electric eel is fascinating as well because only three organs make up the majority of its body. The fish’s main electrical organ, Hunter’s organ, and the Sachs’ organ collectively occupy 80% of its body cavity. The body’s remaining organs are grouped together in the front.
Electric Eels Habitat
In South America, these fish can be found in ponds, rivers, and streams. Along with living in the Guianas, Venezuela, Suriname, Peru, and Ecuador, they are found in the waters all over Brazil. They are mainly found in the Amazon and Orinoco basins. They favor calmer waters because they can swim more easily in them.
Reproduction & Development
During the dry season, electric eels breed, and a single female can lay 1,200–1,700 eggs. The male will start building a nest before the eggs are laid. He’ll use his saliva to build the nest. The male will keep watch over the eggs after they are laid until the start of the rainy season.
How Much Electricity Do They Produce?
In order to protect themselves and to catch their prey, electric eels have developed the ability to generate electricity.
An electric eel will continuously discharge electricity even when it is not actively hunting. Because they function as a kind of radar, they will consistently emit electricity in pulses of about 10 volts. They have poor vision because the waters where they live are frequently very muddy and murky. They navigate by using the electric currents they generate as a kind of radar.
While hunting, an electric eel can produce up to 600 volts of electricity. They don’t produce a consistent flow of electricity like a power plant or transmission line would. Instead, they send out brief electrical bursts that typically last 2 msec.
How Do Electric Eels Work?
About 6,000 muscle cells in the bodies of electric eels generate a tiny amount of current each. One large, hazardous surge of current results from adding up thousands of cells each producing a small amount of current.
They possess specialized organs that can generate both weak and powerful charges. The Hunter’s organ and the Sachs’ organ are also used, but the electrical organ is the primary one. The fish also use these organs for navigation, communication, and defense in addition to hunting.
An electric eel uses about one-third of both their Sachs’ and Hunter’s organs to create the current when they want to deliver a milder electric shock.
They will use the main 2/3 of Hunter’s organ as well as the main electrical organ when they need to deliver a more lethal shock. When possible, they try to avoid creating these stronger electrical currents because doing so quickly depletes their energy.
All of these disc-shaped electrical cells are crammed into the fish’s organs that produce electricity. The nervous system controls these organs and cells and determines when to release them.
Why Don’t Electric Eels Electrocute Themselves?
Electric eels hunt by shocking their prey, delivering a fatal shock. How Do Electric Eels Work and How do they not shock themselves when they produce this powerful surge of electricity?
Honestly, researchers aren’t quite sure about the answer to this yet. One theory suggests that electric eels likely feel the shock, but their body is so resistant to the electricity that it does not cause any damage.