Electric Eel

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Electric Eel

Discover Utah

Electric eels live in the murky streams and ponds of the Amazon and Orinoco basins of South America. These famous freshwater predators get their name from the enormous electrical charge they can generate to stun prey and dissuade predators. Their bodies contain electric organs with about 6,000 specialized cells called electrocytes that store power like tiny batteries. When threatened or attacking prey, these cells will discharge simultaneously, emitting a burst of at least 600 volts, five times the power of a standard U.S. wall socket.

Throughout the month of December, the lights on a Christmas tree twinkle by using the energy generated by the electric eel. "We took the voltage produced by the eel via stainless steel electrodes and used it to power a sequencer," said Terry Smith, Project Manager at Cache Valley Electric. "The sequencer takes the voltage the eel produces and operates circuitry that flashes the lights, fast or slow, based on the level of voltage he puts out, " said Smith. Each time the eel moves, the lights on the 5ft tall tree flash intermittently using 4 strands of holiday lights.

Check out the electric eel in action here:

The electric eel exhibit is made possible by: