As the Tennessee Aquarium gears up for the holiday season, one electric eel is taking on the most important job of all. Miguel Wattson, the aquarium’s resident electric eel, is lighting the facility's Christmas tree with its electric shocks.
When Miguel produces low-voltage shocks, the tree blinks. When it releases a high-voltage discharge, the lights on the tree flash brightly.
“When he is excited and possibly looking for food and exploring the environment in the tank …. you will see more of the electricity,” the eel’s handler, Kimberley Hurt, told InsideEdition.com.
Electric eels are not an actual species of eel, but rather a knifefish, which is a freshwater fish related to a carp or catfish, according to National Geographic. But its name comes from the electric charge it uses three different organs to produce. It and can release up to 800 watts of voltage, that of which is more than eight times the voltage of a household outlet.
The electric shocks produced by the fish are generally used for electrolocation and attacking in the wild.
“They use low-voltage shocks for things like electrolocation, which is very similar to echolocation, which dolphins do … and they can talk to other eels with their electricity,” Hurt explained. “In comparison, the high-voltage shocks are used mainly for self-defense and for stunning prey in the wild.”
Miguel, however, is enjoying using his electricity to fuel the holidays. Hunt said Miguel seems to get more active shortly before the aquarium’s daily show, which proves he enjoys the constant attention.
His shocks also help him communicate with his nearly 40,000 Twitter followers. A team of coders at Tennessee Tech University built a Twitter account that sends out messages like “Ka-Boom” and “Bazinga” every time Miguel sends out a strong shock wave.