Physics Electric Eels

Topics: Electric charge, Electricity, Electric current Pages: 6 (1782 words) Published: December 4, 2014
Sakib Khan
Electric Eels – Physics

The animal that is usually known as electric eel is in fact not really an eel but a freshwater species related more to the carp family or catfish family. These unique freshwater predators got their name from the immense electrical charge that they can easily generate to stun or even kill their preys and dissuade predators. Electric eels can grow extremely large which usually can reach as high as 8 foot long and weigh a great amount of 45lbs. In addition to this their average life span in the wild can be up to 15 years. Also these eels appearances are rather fascinating as they have such a long body with a flat head with their colour ranging from gray or green whilst having a yellow underbelly. The eels do have gills but also acquire a lot of oxygen from the surface gulping heaps of air to survive. Manufacturing electricity to find prey and stun them in order to feed on they mainly live on small fish and amphibians, as well as small mammals and birds if caught in their waters. If compared to other fish, the electric eels organs such as the heart and liver are located near the head. Unspeakably even their intestines are shortened and looped making it more closer to the front of the body. Electric eels tend to live in murky, muddy waters and usually live with poor eyesight. They are most known to be found in the ponds of the Amazon and also Orinoco basins of South America. One very thrilling fact about these eels is that they use a low voltage charge to sense their whole surroundings and to navigate and swim through the water. If threatened by any other animals they use their bodies which contain 6,000 specialized cells names electrocytes that are basically cells that store power just like batteries. They use these electrocytes to survive by making the cells discharge concurrently letting off a burst of up to 600 volts which is equivalent of five times the electricity that is discharged by a single wall socket at home.

Here is a brief diagram of an electric eel:

The Reason Behind Why Electric Eels Don’t Shock Themselves This question amazes us all and is the most widespread question that is asked by everyone “Why don’t electric eels shock themselves?” As they are in the same water as the prey they attack and current is being generated right inside their bodies. But surprisingly they do shock themselves. Electric eels have been caught in the process of shocking something to have curled up a bit and thrash about as itself was also being shocked. But this shock that they experience repeatedly doesn’t injure them. As with the whole world evolving to different environments these electric eels must have also evolved to be resistant to the shocking pain, so they might feel the shock throughout their body but it does not trouble them as much as the effect it has on other animals, or you could also say that eel is insulated from its own shocks. But if the eel is going to shock the water and the prey the eel has to be electrically open to current going out and returning. As seen from the diagram above you can see that the eels main vital organs are in the head. So this makes it likely that the eel is electrically constructed so that its head and all the internal organs are insulated properly so all the current flows out and back into the rest of the body of the eels.

How Electric Eels Produce Electricity
The answer is, all living things generate electrical charges from their cells. However in an electric eel they have thousands of modified muscle cells called electrocytes inside the thick tail where they are lined up just like batteries in an ordinary flashlight. Each one of the cells tends to generate about 0.15 volts, which is measured in EMF which is basically the rate at which energy is drawn from a source that produces a flow of electricity in a circuit, which is expressed in volts. In a fully grown electric eel sex thousand cells could be stacked to make one large...

Links: Salters Horners Advanced Physics For Edexcel AS Physics (Published In 2008) = Page 200 – Date Visited - 7th March 2010 - Pearson
http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/fish/electric-eel/ = Date Visited - 7th March 2010
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_eel = Date Visited - 7th March 2010
http://www.chm.bris.ac.uk/webprojects2001/riis/electriceels.htm = Date Visited - 8th March 2010
http://askanaturalist.com/how-do-electric-eels-generate-electricity/ = Date Visited - 7th March 2010 – Submitted By Leland P
http://www.chm.bris.ac.uk/webprojects2001/riis/electriceel3.htm - Date Visited - 7th March 2010
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