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Russell Irwin, age 13, of Pittsburg, PA.

How dangerous is  the electric eel?

The electric eel lives among the weeds and muddy backwaters of the Amazon and Orinoco rivers of South America. His long body is charged with electric batteries which send out weak and strong shocks through the water, The weak shocks are thought to act as detectors to warn the electric eel of obstacles in the water. He uses stronger shocks to stun his prey and fend off his enemies.

The shocks may be sent out for hours in sets of three to five. Each lasts only about one 5ooth part of a second, but the strong ones may carry 300 volts and powerful electric eels have been known to send shocks of 800 volts. Such a shock is strong enough to stun a horse or a man and leave the unlucky victim to drown in the muddy waters.

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