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A research expedition in the Amazon has revealed that electric eels actually hunt in large groups and work together to deliver a surge of energy to attack and disable their prey.

Video uploaded yesterday in the Ecology and Evolution Magazine The Wiley Online Library site shows detailed observations over the past almost 10 years.

The first video evidence of how eels operate was captured in a small lake on the banks of the Iriri River in Brazil in 2012.

Electric Eels Targeting Balls of Prey on Amazon
Electric eels hunt in large groups and work together to deliver a surge of supercharged energy to attack and disable their prey. (9News)
Electric Eels Targeting Balls of Prey on Amazon
The shake is so powerful that the fish can be catapulted out of the water and paralyzed on the surface, defenseless and ready to eat. (9News)

Since then, researchers have continued to return to the site to study the hunting behavior of the eel, revealing some surprising results.

The method involves up to 100 electric eels circling schools of small tetra fish to form a “ball of prey.”

The eels then drive the smaller fish into shallower water, before they divide into smaller groups of around 10 and approach the “prey ball” to produce a supercharged electrical discharge.

David de Santana, a zoologist at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, and a co-author of the new study, said the synchronized blast is so powerful that it throws some of the fish out of the water and leaves them floating. stunned, back to the surface, becoming an easy target for eels.

“It’s really amazing to find behavior like that with eels that are 2.4, 2.5 meters long,” Dr. de Santana told Live Science.

“An individual eel of this species can produce a high-voltage discharge of 860 volts. So in theory 10 electric eels can produce 8,600, that’s a lot.”

Electric Eels Targeting Balls of Prey on Amazon
Eels are broken into smaller packages of 10 to move their prey into balls that are then jolted with a blast of supercharged electricity. (9News)
Electric Eels Targeting Balls of Prey on Amazon
A clearer picture of how tight the fish are in a ball before the attack. (9News)

The findings suggest that eels use the attack method when they are hunting a group of prey that are aware of the eels’ presence.

By working in close proximity to each other, they can create more energy in the electricity they produce and electrocute their prey from farther away.

The eels the researchers observed were Volta electric eels (Electrophorus voltai), and they hypothesize that this predatory method may not be practiced by all species.

They believe this technique is most likely used in places where there is a greater abundance of prey and more shelter for eels to hide, such as the Amazon.


www.9news.com.au

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