The News Today
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1.23.20
Miguel Wattson

Watch an Electric Eel Light up a Christmas Tree

December 7th 19__Kristin Houser__Filed Under: Earth & Energy
Christine Schmidt/Victor Tangermann

Light It Up

The Tennessee Aquarium has found a shocking yet wholesome way to celebrate the holiday season: the aquarium’s electric eel, Miguel Wattson, can control the lights on his very own Christmas tree.

“Whenever Miguel discharges electricity, sensors in the water deliver the charge to a set of speakers,” Joey Turnipseed, the aquarium’s audio visual production specialist, explained in a press release. “The speakers convert the discharge into the sound you hear and the festively flashing lights.”

Will Illuminate for Food

The display isn’t just jolly, either — it’s also educational. According to aquarist Kimberly Hurt, the duration of the tree’s illumination corresponds to Miguel’s current status.

“The rapid, dim blinking of the lights is caused by the constant, low-voltage blips of electricity he releases when he’s trying to find food,” Hurt said in the release. “The bigger flashes are caused by the higher voltage shocks he emits when he’s eating or excited.”

Tweeting Eel

If you can’t make it out to the Tennessee Aquarium this holiday season, you can still connect with Miguel from afar, since he has his very own Twitter account.

And just like he controls the Christmas tree, Miguel also plays an active role in maintaining his social media presence: sensors in his tank allow him to send tweets by emitting shocks above a certain electrical voltage.

READ MORE: Noeel: Electric Eel Lights Up Christmas Tree In Tennessee [NPR]

More on Christmas trees: Your Christmas Tree Could Be Recycled Into Paint or Sweeteners