Contrary to its name, the electric eel is in fact of the "fish" variety, and is less commonly known as electrophorus electricus. It is a member of the gymnotidae family, a clan well known for their ability to discharge electric pulses in the surrounding water, hence the name electric eel.
There are other species of fish which have similar capabilities, Mormyriforms (Elephant nose), Siluriforms (Electric Catfish), Rays (the Torpedo ray), and Skates, but different species have different applications for their electricity generating powers. The Elephant nose fish, for example, uses its electric field for navigation purposes, it can also identify predators, prey and mates by sensing disturbances in the surrounding electric field.
Owing to its poor eyesight and lack of maxillary teeth, the electric eel uses its abilities to navigate, locate, and stun its prey so that it can feed without the hassles of having to restrain a struggling meal. Defense and communication are also fundamental roles of the electrical discharge.
Below is a brief diagram of the electric eel;
The eel has a dark grey/brown back with a yellow under-body, and a smooth skin covered in tiny scales. Its vital organs are found at the front of the body, leaving the rest of the "tail" for the electric organ, this can take up to 4/5 of the entire length. Despite the fact that the eel has gills, if submerged for longer than fifteen minutes at a time, it will suffocate through lack of oxygen, hence it surfaces at regular intervals.
An adult eel can reach any size from five to nine feet in length - this will give an indication of the potential voltage it produces when in attack or defense. A large adult can produce a potential difference in excess of 600 volts (between its head and tail), and combined with a current of up to 1 ampere, this can be fatal if delivered to a human in the near vicinity of the eel. The eels thick skin acts as protection against its own electric shocks.....injuries inflicted upon the eel can result in the eel electrocuting itself.