Deep Sea Battles: Can the World’s Largest Electric Eel Take Down a Great White Shark?

Written by Angie Menjivar
Updated: October 4, 2023
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One can generate powerful electrical discharges while the other shreds through flesh with its razor-sharp, serrated teeth. But in a battle between an electric eel vs. a great white shark, which sea creature emerges victorious? Let’s find out!

Electric Eel and Great White Shark: Comparison

Electric EelGreat White Shark
SizeSix to eight feet long Up to 45 poundsUp to 21 feet long Between 1,500 and 4,000 pounds
Speed and MovementUp to five miles per hour Can swim forward and backward (and hover)Up to 35 miles per hour
DefensesElectrical discharges from their three electric organsBody slams and bites
Offensive CapabilitiesSandwiches prey between its head and tail to deliver immobilizing shocksSpeedy attack, bites with serrated teeth
Predatory BehaviorHunt in groups, swimming in circles to trap fish and send electrical dischargesAmbush prey from below, often leaping out of the water

What Are the Key Differences Between an Electric Eel and a Great White Shark?

Electric eels prefer freshwater environments while great white sharks prefer saltwater environments. While an electric eel’s size maxes out at under 10 feet, a great white shark can grow longer than 20 feet. While electric eels prefer snacking on smaller fish, great white sharks go for larger marine mammals like sea lions and seals. A great white shark has a powerful bite, but an electric eel has the ability to discharge electric shocks. The way they hunt, the way they defend themselves, and the ways in which they attack differ as well.

Electric eel

Electric eels can discharge up to 800 volts!

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What Are the Key Factors in a Battle Between an Electric Eel and a Great White Shark?

There are a couple of different key factors that come into play in a battle between an electric eel and a great white shark. For one, their size. The other is how quickly they can move, as their agility in the water can either help or hinder them in a battle. How each sea creature defends itself and how it attacks determines which animal might be the most aggressive and be able to do the most damage. Finally, the way that they hunt comes into play because it could be part of their strategy as they try to take down their opponent.

Electric Eel vs. Great White Shark: Size

An electric eel is significantly smaller than a great white shark. They can only grow six to eight feet long and weigh, on average, about 45 pounds. A great white shark is an apex predator that grows up to 21 feet long and weighs thousands upon thousands of pounds. When you place these animals side-by-side, you realize how massive a great white shark can get.

Electric Eel vs. Great White Shark: Speed and Movement

While an electric eel can swim backward and hover, it can only reach speeds of up to five miles per hour. It doesn’t compare to the speed of a great white shark, which can reach speeds of up to 35 mph. Great whites swim so fast that when they swim upward toward the surface of the water, they breach.

Electric Eel vs. Great White Shark: Defenses

An electric eel’s most powerful defense is its ability to generate electrical discharges. It has three electric organs that can emit either weak or strong signals, depending on what the electric eel is trying to accomplish. It might be communicating, or it might be trying to stun prey while hunting. It’s safe to say that not many sea creatures would start a fight with a great white shark but if a great white shark needs to defend itself, it uses its entire body. It will body slam and not hesitate to use its sharp, serrated teeth to bite through the flesh of any animal that has dared to attack it.

Great White Shark

Great white sharks ambush their prey from below, often breaching as they do.


Electric Eel vs. Great White Shark: Offensive Capabilities

When an electric eel is attacking, like the great white shark, it uses its whole body. It sandwiches its prey between its head and its tail to deliver the most powerful electrical discharges. This immobilizes their prey, allowing them to consume it with ease. When a great white shark attacks, it goes in for the kill. It uses its sharp teeth to bite right through the flesh.

Electric Eel vs. Great White Shark: Predatory Behavior

Electric eels are unique in that they hunt in groups. Together, they swim in circles to trap smaller fish in the whirlpool. Then, they emit electrical discharges to stun the fish, so they can enjoy a feast. Great white sharks don’t hunt in groups and instead go solo, ambushing their prey from below with such speed that they breach, their prey caught in their mouths as they land back in the water with a splash.

In a Battle Between an Electric Eel and a Great White Shark, Which Animal Wins?

In a battle between an electric eel and a great white shark, a great white shark would win. Although an electric eel can generate up to 800 volts of electricity, a great white shark is a massive sea creature that would be hardly fazed. A great white shark is quick to kill, which renders the electric eel unable to use its greatest power.

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About the Author

Angie Menjivar is a writer at A-Z-Animals primarily covering pets, wildlife, and the human spirit. She has 14 years of experience, holds a Bachelor's degree in psychology, and continues her studies into human behavior, working as a copywriter in the mental health space. She resides in North Carolina, where she's fallen in love with thunderstorms and uses them as an excuse to get extra cuddles from her three cats.

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