“Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.”
It has long been known that electric eels are able to immobilize prey with a jolt of electricity. But new research, reported in the journal Science, has shown that eels also use their electric organs to make fish come out of hiding. A researcher from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, found that the electric discharges from eels caused the muscles of their prey to twitch, making them easier to capture by revealing their whereabouts.
Dr. Kenneth Catania, who led the study, set up small aquatic arenas to test the eels’ hunting abilities – putting an eel and a fish into the same tank. As he discovered, the eels’ electric pulses directly activated the nerves that controlled their prey’s muscles. “You and I couldn’t activate every muscle in our bodies at once,” he said, “but the eels can do that [remotely] in their prey.”
Dr. Catania noticed that hungry eels would emit pairs of pulses when their potential meal was out of view. These “doublets”, as they are called, generate very rapid and strong muscle contraction, causing the fish to jump and bringing them out of hiding.
Just like the hapless fish in the tank, we have powerful enemies who seek our destruction. But we know we also have an all-powerful God who protects and preserves us. In Psalm 143:9, the writer cries out: “Deliver me, O LORD, from mine enemies: I flee unto thee to hide me.” While our enemies may be many and strong, our God is stronger still.
Heavenly Father, thank You for being a very present help when I am in trouble. When I am under attack, I know I can turn to You. Amen.
“Electric eels ‘remotely control their prey’,” BBC News Science & Environment, 12/4/14. http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-30335335. Photo: Electric eel at the New England Aquarium in Boston. Courtesy of Stephen G. Johnson. (CC-BY-SA 3.0)