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Electric Eel Keeps This Aquarium's Christmas Tree Lit

Miguel Wattson is providing the juice for seasonal lights at the Tennessee Aquarium
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 5, 2019 8:42 AM CST
In this undated photo, an electric eel named Miguel Wattson lights up a Christmas tree at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, Tenn.   (Thom Benson/Tennessee Aquarium via AP)

(Newser) – Visitors to the Tennessee Aquarium may be shocked to learn that an electric eel named Miguel Wattson is lighting up a Christmas tree, per the AP. A special system connected to Miguel's tank enables his shocks to power strands of lights on a nearby tree, according to a news release. Miguel releases low-voltage blips of electricity when he's trying to find food, aquarist Kimberly Hurt said. That translates to a rapid, dim blinking of the Christmas lights. When he's eating or excited, he emits higher-voltage shocks, which cause bigger flashes. Wattson has his own Twitter account where he shares tweets generated by his sparky self—courtesy of coding by Tennessee Tech University's iCube center—with nearly 38,000 followers.

"They combined electrical engineering and emerging business communication to give the eel a voice," Kevin Liska, the center's director, previously said in an aquarium statement. In between Miguel's tweets boasting statements like "SHAZAM!!!!," "ka-BLAMEROO!!!!!," and "ZIPPITY-ZAPPITY-ZOOP!!!," a video posted to the account shows Miguel shaking in his tank as lights on the nearby tree sputter on and off. The aquarium hopes the Christmas tree will spark love and appreciation for the unusual freshwater fish.

(Read more strange stuff stories.)

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