It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, TN. The aquarium recently went viral when people shared that an electric eel is powering a festive Christmas tree. Every time he releases a jolt of electricity, the tree next to his tank flickers and glows. This might just be the best Christmas tree you have seen yet.
How It Works
You might be “shocked” to know that Miguel Wattson isn’t your typical eel. Previously, aquarium officials set up a special system attached to his tank, which corresponds with his bursts of electricity. Every time he produces electric jolts, the sensors read the output and they will light up a display board. It’s also connected to a soundboard, which alerts visitors when Miguel is producing electricity.
With this system already in place, it was an obvious decision for aquarium officials to take it to the next level. They decided to attach Miguel’s sensors to a Christmas tree for the holiday season. Miguel releases electric jolts every time he is finding food, which translates to the dim blinking of Christmas lights on the tree next to his tank. When he’s excited, he emits higher-voltage shocks up to 800 volts, causing even bigger flashes on the tree.
The innovative electric system was made possible by the coding of Tennessee Tech University’s iCube center, an innovation center for students and faculty. “They combined electrical engineering and emerging business communication to give the eel a voice,” said center director Kevin Liska.
Popular On Social Media
Even before the aquarium set up the Christmas tree, Miguel was famous on social media. The eel has had a Twitter account (@EelectricMiguel) since 2014, where “Miguel” posts pictures and videos of himself. Tweets are written as though Miguel is emitting electric shocks. What do those shocks sound like? The tweets attempt to transcribe them into the English language.
For example, he tweets, “ZWI-POW!!!” Or, he tweets, “za-BOOSH!!!” Twitter users can imagine Miguel actually composing the tweets with his sounds. You don’t have to visit the aquarium to hear Miguel, but it’s always preferred to visit the special eel in person.
Of course, the Twitter page has increased its popularity ever since it shared the now-viral video of Miguel lighting up a Christmas tree. The video has been viewed over 36,000 times. Twitter users happily shared their amazement about Miguel and the aquarium’s creative display.
One user (@LivingOdyssey) said, “Amazing job, bud! You truly have [the] Christmas spirit! This is so cool.” Another user (@StrangerAunty) commented, “That’s awesome, what a great way to make the invisible visible!” The user (@thesmokiescom) said, “This is taking decorating to new levels.” Finally, user (@twofootanidol) fittingly tweeted, “Let it glow, let it glow, let it glow.”
It turns out Miguel is inspiring everyone to get into the holiday spirit. That’s possibly the main reason aquarium officials decided to put up the Christmas tree in the first place. They wanted to bring a little holiday cheer to the Tennessee aquarium.
More Shocks In The Future
The Tennessee Aquarium hopes the sensory system will inspire others to appreciate eels and other sea animals; eels are typically underappreciated. Miguel is a popular eel, and the aquarium is planning to feature him in more fun content. The aquarium is already preparing to use the electric eel Christmas tree exhibit in future years. Miguel’s display has joined other aquariums in being as creative as possible during the holiday season.
“We want people to be interested in these animals and interested in protecting the waters that they live in,” said aquarist Kimberly Hurt. As long as Miguel continues to be the star of popular videos, people will be interested in eels. They’re “electrified” by him, and that’s the most important thing of all.
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