In 1492, explorer Christopher Columbus and his crew were moving closer to what they believed to be the ‘New World’. His logs record that on one particular day, they saw bright flashing lights in the dimly lit night sky. The sea took on an eerie calm before rising high without any wind. Before the crew could wrap their minds around this, the instruments in the ship began malfunctioning, giving the crew erratic readings.
They were sailing in the mid-Atlantic, off the coast of Florida… right in the middle of ‘The Bermuda Triangle’.
What is the Bermuda Triangle?
Depending on how you look at it, The Bermuda Triangle could be something supernatural, a complete myth or even a conspiracy, but it is certainly a mystery. Also known as ‘The Devil’s Triangle’, it is a loosely defined region in the mid-Atlantic near the island of Bermuda. The three triangle vertices were defined more precisely, by American author Vincent Gaddis in a 1964 issue of the popular magazine ‘Argosy’, as Miami (Florida), San Juan (Puerto Rico), and Bermuda. Although this was the first attempt to define its boundaries, some people define the total area varying from 1,300,000 to 3,900,000 square km.
According to the U.S. Navy, the triangle does not exist and the name is not recognized by the US Board on Geographical Names. Classic military…
Why is it so infamous?
The tales of disappearing aircraft and ships are astonishing and quite mind-boggling. Although most of these are riddled with bad documentation and faulty reconstruction, some have become modern legends.
- On August 28, 1963, two US Air Force planes collided mid-air while inside the Bermuda Triangle. The surprising nature of this crash was that the crash sites were separated by about 250 kilometers, which is next to impossible. Many believed this occurrence to be supernatural in nature.
- No trace of the aircraft or the 32 people on board was found when the Douglas DC-3 plane flew over the triangle in 1948. There was no probable cause to hold responsible for the disappearance.
- A training flight of five bomber planes disappeared in 1945 while over the Atlantic. They never returned to base and a search operation with a 13-man crew deployed to look for them was also lost within the confines of the triangle.
- A five-man fishing sailboat that Carroll A. Dearing built in 1919 was found abandoned on land near the coast of Florida. Hours later, an unknown steamer was found tracking the same path and ignoring all signals from the adjacent lighthouse. Another ship, the SS Hewitt, which disappeared at roughly the same time, is speculated to have been this steamer run off-course but the reason why it ignored all calls remains perplexing.
- The most interesting incident in the Bermuda Triangle occurred in 1881 when the merchant ship Ellen Austin came across an abandoned ship. People were sent on board to bring back the ship with them to New York. According to the logs, the abandoned vessel disappeared, only to appear later without the replacement crew on board. There are no casualty listings for this ship and the missing men were never found.
What could be the reason behind the disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle?
In almost all of the incidents, compass problems have been observed. It has been theorized that local magnetic anomalies may exist in the area. Also, true magnetic north is not the same as geographic north, so it might change over an area as large as the Triangle. Ill-informed people could have misunderstood this compass behavior and become lost.
Ocean currents like the Gulf Stream in that region are basically like rivers within an ocean that exist due to temperature gradients. It has a surface velocity of up to about 9 kilometers per hour. A small plane landing on its surface could be carried away from its reported position by the current.
This might be an obvious candidate to pin the blame on, since the sea can get very violent in a very small amount of time. Tropical cyclones are quite frequent in the mid-Atlantic area and have infamously cost thousands of lives and caused billions of dollars in damage.
Atlantis and UFOs:
These are probably the strangest explanations for physical phenomenon, and the list wouldn’t be complete if the most popular conspiracy theories weren’t mentioned. One explanation fully blames the leftover technology from the mythical lost underwater continent of Atlantis. The people who choose to support this believe that the anomalies in the instruments are caused by the advanced crystal tech of the Atlantians. Evidence to support this is controversial at best, with a unique rock formation inside the triangle believed to be a remnant of Atlantian architecture.
Many theorists also hold aliens responsible for these strange events. Attributing the accidents to UFOs and disappearances to alien abduction, they hold little weight over the scientific community, but are very popular amongst the larger audiences.
Why is it probably nothing?
This area is one of the most heavily traveled shipping lanes in the world, with ships crossing through it daily for ports in the Americas, Europe, and the Caribbean Islands. It is also a heavily flown route for commercial and private aircraft heading towards Florida and the Caribbean. Due to the busy nature of this area, the statistical probability of accidents is high. In fact, the number of supposed disappearances is relatively insignificant considering the number of ships and aircraft that pass through it on a regular basis.
Sorry for being a ‘muggle’ and taking away the possibility of something magical being to blame, but facts are facts, and although proof of the occurrence of an accident is available, most people feel that claims of voyagers and pulp writers like Gaddis are exaggerated and unverifiable. In other words, I think it’s safe to assume that although the Bermuda triangle is more exaggeration than truth, it will remain fodder for conspiracy theorists for many years to come!