Friday, 30 October 2015

Electric Embrace: Eels Curl Up to Supercharge Shocks

by Elizabeth Palermo, Associate Editor | October 28, 2015 02:39pm ET

It's kind of like walking straight into an electric fence, or getting shot with a stun gun. That's how one biologist describes the experience of getting zapped by an electric eel.

"You wouldn't voluntarily do it over and over again," said Kenneth Catania, a professor of biological sciences at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, and author of a new study about the electric eels' shocking behavior.

Catania has been zapped a few times since he began studying the electric eel (Electrophorus electricus), a fish that's indigenous to the murky waters of the Amazon. Endowed with three electricity-producing organs, E. electricus can send a pulse, or volley, of high-voltage electricity through the water toward prey items. These shocks aren't meant to kill the prey, just demobilize it so the eel can more easily consume its victims, Catania told Live Science.

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