Claire Corlett

Fish Food, Fish Tanks, and More
How Do Eels Make Electricity?

How Do Eels Make Electricity?

Electric eels have fascinated scientists and
the public for hundreds of years. Even Charles Darwin was puzzled by them. What is the shocking
secret behind an electric eel’s weapon? Hey guys Julia here for DNews Electric eels are some of the most shocking….
okay sorry had to do that once… organisms on this planet. They can harness the power
of electricity to hunt. But electric eels aren’t eels at all, they’re actually a
type of knife fish found in the Amazon River Basin in South America. They’re just one
type of dozens of fish that use electrical fields as sort of extrasensory perception.
But they’re the only ones with a charge strong enough to kill. Basically electric eels and other fish have
modified muscle cells that stack on top of each other. They work kind of like batteries.
Okay when I say kind of, I mean Alessandro Volta actually modeled batteries after electric
eels! Typically an eel can have as many as 6,000 of these cells called electrocytes.
These stacks of cells are negatively charged inside and their outsides are positively charged,
each cells has the potential of .08 volts. Not a lot, and considering the charges alternate,
no current flows. But as soon as the eel is triggered by spotting
a potential prey, these cells open up and an influx of sodium ions changes the polarity,
so now the stacks have a positive and negative end which creates an electric current. With
all the cells stacked together, in some species of fish, the charge can reach as many as 600
volts of electricity. While that might sound like a lot, it’s not enough to kill a man,
because the shocks are delivered very quickly in a matter of milliseconds. but it’s certainly
enough electricity to shock a small fish. But the coolest thing about electric eels
special shocking power, it’s not just for killing prey. Their shocks have a stealth
mode, they have a low voltage version that helps them hunt. These electric shocks act
an awful lot like sonar bats use. They can send them out as feelers, sensing if any fish
are lurking near by. But even their big shocks have a dual function.
One study published in the journal Nature Communications found it’s for hunting too.
The lead author of the study told National Geographic that “The eel can use its electric
attack simultaneously as a weapon and a sensory system, it’s sort of a science-fiction-like
ability.” Once they hone in on a prey they have a “remote
control” mode. They send out two closely spaced high-voltage discharges, called doublets
which makes the prey’s body contract involuntarily. This movement sends ripples through the water.
It lets the eel know it’s an alive thing and possibly prey. It can even make the fish
“freeze”. It shocks their neurological system so the fish can’t move. While ideal
for catching smaller prey, sometimes the shock isn’t enough for catching larger fish. So
an eel has to amp up their power. A recent study published in the journal Current
Biology found that eels boost their electric zap by curling into a circle. This brings
the positively charged end of their body, their head, with the negatively charged tail
area. By bringing the two points closer together, the fish can double their shock. While their shock isn’t enough to kill a
person, it’s still pretty painful. Those who’ve experienced it say it’s a lot like
running into an electric fence. So I wouldn’t exactly try fishing for one anytime soon.
As close as I’d like to get is Twitter. Miguel Wattson is an electric eel at the Tennessee
Aquarium sends a tweet whenever he sends out zap! check him out @EelectricMiguel But there are a ton of other animals I wouldn’t
touch with a ten foot pole. Electric eels and sharks often get a bad reputation for
being dangerous and deadly, but there are some freshwater animals you should be way
more terrified of. Julian and Natalia Reagan have the scoop on four Freshwater Animals
More Terrifying Than Sharks in this episode right here. Like the shockingly great shirt I have on?
Get one of your very own! Check out our full spread of DNews shirts and swag over at For
Human Peoples. There’s a link
in the description.

96 comments on “How Do Eels Make Electricity?

  1. Check this out. From another you tuber. If electric eels can kill this crock. Is it possible for human to also get ki…lled???
    Watch "Electric Eel Attack – Warning!! High Voltage" on YouTube

  2. well the theory of evolution sure can't explain this : eel wakes up with 6000 HV cells by random mutation, not

  3. This is me a little boy using my moms phone and i can use my own real power if electric and i can produce 5voltage and once i shocked mom while taking a shower and she screamed and I looked at her stunned and if I remind you about Michael Vey im like him because I am him and yes i touched a electric eel and it just gave my more voltage so now i have like lets see every 2months i end up with 50voltage in a month so 12×9=29 and 29×50=1250 1250×2=2500 voltages wow thats a lot for me and Im only 9 years old thats just wow i never knew i could have so much power I can like shock someone 4 or 19 feet away from me

  4. I would hope that white people stop referring to Darwin as some sort of expert when all his work is a sham.

  5. She said that Electric Eels can't kill a man and yet there is a video of an Electric Eel that killed a gator. Smh

  6. Soon we will be powering cars with these. Dudes will be like, "Hey Buddy.. How many eels this thing have?", "well it came stock with 450 eels. I went to the pet shop and added another 50 eels so now im up to a whopping 500 eels.."

  7. volts are not the biggest danger in electricity, it's the amperes. 0.2 amps and up and it gets dangerous (0.5 through the heart and that's almost certified death), volts you can take as much as you want. amperage is the power of the electricity and voltage is the reach of it. the longer line you are puling the more volts you need.

  8. …more democrat nerds who think intelligence is about regurgitating everything the college professor tells them to regurgitate

  9. If you catch one wear do you turn of the fuse or circuit breaker are they 3 phase or single phase if they are 3 phase they would have 3 fuses or 3 pole circuit breaker in younger new ones i think the old ones would have fuses

  10. getting shocked by a 110 outlet is "kinda" painful, but not as bad as youd think. though theres supposedly a chance of it stopping your heart.

  11. I got touched by some eels……I became electro…….I was the Villian the in THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN 2…
    CURRENTLY I'M IN THE THE SINISTER SIX😀😀😀😀😀😀😂😂😂😂🤣🤣😭😂🤣🤣😂🤣😂🤣😂😆😆😁😄😁😁


    I am pretty much sure that the Electric Eel is the element behind the Dendera Electric light bulb depiction.

    Either that the Eel was used as a direct catalizator on side or otherwise as an off side power plant to charge a battery as those found in Baghdad ceramic pots.

    The ancient Egyptians knew how to make glass and to produce and work with metals.

    They could either put the Electric Eel in a kind of an light bulb 💡 aquarium and have him ignite light making the glass of the light bulb balloon made of some material that would illuminate under the electric potential of the fish, or indeed make light bulb with coper filaments in the form of the Electric Eel as a metaphor to the source of energy.

    The Electric Eel just demonstrated in this video that it can charge up a battery up to 500-600 volt.

    Hopefully science will look into it.

    Prof. K. Catania would be the most authorized expert to investigate this matter.

    The science behind the Electric Eel

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