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Monday, October 20, 2008

Electric Eels - shocking water predators

An electric eel can produce a shock of up to 650 volts.
Electric eels cannot get enough oxygen from water. Approximately every five minutes, they must surface to breathe, or they will drown.
Electric Eels can swim both backwards and forwards.
Electric Eels have poor eyesight, but can emit a low-level charge, less than 10 volts, which they use like radar to navigate and locate prey.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Osteichthyes
Order: Gymnotiformes
Family: Gymnotidae
Genus: Electrophorus
Species: E. electricus

Electrophorus electricus or Electric Eels are fascinating and famous freshwater predators get their name from the enormous electrical charge they can generate to stun/immobilize prey and dissuade predators. Their bodies contain electric organs with about 6,000 specialized cells called electrolytes that store power like tiny batteries. When threatened or attacking prey, these cells will discharge simultaneously, emitting a burst of at least 600 volts. The electric organ, which consists of a series of modified tail muscles, is similar to a row of batteries connected in a series. It is subdivided into three sections: two small and one large. One small battery is used for navigational signals. The large battery and the other small one is used to generate the stunning discharge. After delivering a strong shock, the electric eel must then allow the electric organ to recharge. Batteries have to be recharged using an external source of energy; in the electric eel the energy to recharge the electric organ comes from the fish's metabolism.

Despite their serpentine appearance, electric eels are not actually eels, their scientific classification is closer to carp and catfish. They are spread in the South America in Guianas then in the Orinoco and the Amazon basin. It has got long and rounded body with small eyes. Its colour is dark brown. The eel can be up to 2.4 m (8 feet) long. The electric eel does not have any pelvic, dorsal or tail fin. Because of that its swimming can also be called as wriggling because its movements are made by the anal fin. An adult eel feeds on small fishes and young eels eat insects.


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