Fluke - On the rivers of Suriname, electric eels reveal their secrets

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It wasn't his quarry's good looks that drew Will Crampton to the wilds of Suriname. It was the animal's technical skills.

With his Fluke ScopeMeter® portable oscilloscope in hand, Professor Crampton and a National Geographic video crew flew into Suriname's 1.3-million-acre Raleigh Vallen nature preserve in July 2011. Their goal: capture the world's most powerful electric fish-Electrophorus electricus, the electric eel-and measure its punch.


Lanky and mud-colored, the beady-eyed electric eel can grow up to six feet in length and 45 pounds. It's not a true eel, but one of the neo-tropical knifefishes in the order Gymnotiformes, more closely related to catfish.

Like other knifefishes, the electric eel can generate low-level electrical fields that it uses for navigating through its sometimes turbid environment and for identifying others of its species. But Electrophorus electricus can also crank out a dc current powerful enough to stun its prey and to shock potential predators into choosing something else for dinner...


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