Electric Eels Heighten Shock by Curving Bodies

Kenneth C. Catania

Electric eels are able to wield strong zapping power in surprising and subtle ways. A recently ended study has found that  when the eel is dealing with a prey that is hard to subdue or is struggling, the eel will bend its body into a shape of a horseshoe , which allows it to double the voltage delivered to their victim.

The new findings, which are published in Current Biology show how the eel has incredible abilities to subdue its prey.

The author of the study Kenneth Catania a Vanderbilt University neurobiologist said that shows even though an animal might have been studied for years it could be doing many amazing things everyone is unaware of until a closer look is taken.

Catania has been studying the eel for a long time discovering they can force their prey to twitch which reveals where they are located.

Once an eel shocks its quarry, they then reposition themselves in order to swallow it headfirst.

The fish, in that instant, if it is able to withstand an electric shock, has the only chance it will have to swim away avoiding becoming the next meal for the eel.

However, during the search, Catania began noticing something strange. A number of the eels would curl their bodies at the time they zapped their prey, bringing their heads toward the tail with the fish in between.

The observation was noted by the scientists and later an experiment was performed to determine what was taking place.

He noticed that younger eels that were only between 3 and 10 inches in length would curl up more often during the electrical shock.

The larger adult eels rarely bothered to curl up.

The organ that is electricity producing in the eel has a negative and positive end with the positive end near the head and the negative in the tail.

It seemed therefore that when curling up the eel might bring together the opposing ends of the shocking organ to concentrate the electrifying effect by forming a horseshoe magnetic effect and increasing the force of the electrical shock.