CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (CBS Local) — An aquarium in Tennessee is hoping to shock visitors this holiday season with an electric eel that lights up a Christmas tree. The Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga has set up a special system to the tank of an electric eel, named Miguel Wattson, that enables his shocks to light up a nearby tree.
“Whenever Miguel discharges electricity, sensors in the water deliver the charge to a set of speakers,” said Joey Turnipseed, the Aquarium’s audiovisual production specialist. “The speakers convert the discharge into the sound you hear and the festively flashing lights.”
The aquarium hopes the new program, dubbed “Shocking around the Christmas Tree,” will inspire “a new love and appreciation for this unusual freshwater fish.”
ICYMI, here's a video of yours truly attempting to use my discharges to power the lights on a Christmas tree. (SPOILER ALERT ::: Of course I pull it off. My phenomenal cosmic — well, bio-electric — power is basically limitless.) pic.twitter.com/g4r5JPHWoH
— Miguel Wattson TNAQ (@EelectricMiguel) December 2, 2019
“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,” Aquarist Kimberly Hurt said. “The bigger flashes are caused by the higher voltage shocks he emits when he’s eating or excited.”
This isn’t the first time the aquarium has harnessed Miguel’s bursts of electricity for creative purposes. The eel joined Twitter in 2014 (@EelectricMiguel) and posts pre-written tweets whenever the probes in his tank “detect a high enough voltage discharge for a long enough amount of time.”
Most of Miguel’s tweets are electric-sounding, like “BAZINGG!!!” or “BAZOWWW!!!!”
Other tweets are informative (“Did you know electric eels can leap from the water to defend ourselves?”) and downright hilarious (“No… if you come to the Aquarium, I can’t help you charge your phone.”).
The account has attracted more than 38,000 followers.