Electric Eel in aquarium will perform a special tree lighting


Miguel Wattson, the Tennessee Aquarium’s tweeting Electric Eel (@EelectricMiguel), will perform a special tree lighting ceremony to kick off the holiday season on Monday, Dec. 2 at 11:15 a.m.

“Shocking around the Christmas Tree” is a new program offered as part of the Aquarium’s Holidays Under the Peaks celebration. Unlike SCUBA Claus’ sleigh, the decorations on Miguel’s tree aren’t powered by the holiday spirit, but in a pinch, they could admirably sub in for Rudolph’s nose to light the way on St. Nick’s annual journey.

“Whenever Miguel discharges electricity, sensors in the water deliver the charge to a set of speakers,” explains Joey Turnipseed, the Aquarium’s audio visual production specialist. Turnipseed is responsible for tackling the unique engineering challenge of translating Miguel’s biologically generated electricity into a glimmering yuletide display. “The speakers convert the discharge into the sound you hear and the festively flashing lights.”

Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow — as well as older guests who are still young-at-heart — will get big smiles whenever the eel is feeding or feeling particularly jolly.

While the seasonal fun is something to see, Aquarists hope it also sparks a new love and appreciation for this unusual freshwater fish (and not a true eel, as guests will quickly learn during the program). The best way to see an Electric Eel lighting up a Christmas Tree is at the Tennessee Aquarium, but a gentle reminder that these bioelectric wonders do not make good stocking stuffers.

When / Where: Monday, Dec. 2, at 11:15 a.m. Tennessee Aquarium River Journey building (Rivers of the World Gallery)