The Electric Eel (Electrophorus electricus) is a freshwater fish in the Gymnotidae family of electric eels. It is not an eel. It is a Gymnotiforme in the knifefish family. It is related to the Catfish.
The Electric Eel has three pairs of abdominal (stomach) organs that produce electricity: the main organ, the Hunter’s organ, and the Sach’s organ, which are made of electrocytes. Scientists think it has enough electricity, up to 500 volts, to produce a ‘stun gun’ shock, or electrocution, in humans and its prey.
Why doesn’t the Electric Eel electrocute itself?
The Electric Eel has striated muscle fibres made of flattened cells that collectively make electricity. When the muscles contract the current flows through its tail but it does not hurt itself. Scientists think that it is because the electric current does not reach the head of the eel. Therefore, it does not suffer from electrocution. However, older eels may suffer blindness from the electric shock.
Location of photographs: Miami Zoo, Florida, America
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM