For as long as I can remember, I have heard stories about the mysterious Bermuda Triangle. The Bermuda Triangle covers a large area of the Southern Atlantic Ocean, from Florida, to Puerto Rico, to Bermuda. In the last six centuries, dozens of planes and ship’s have mysteriously disappeared in this area, earning it a new name… “The Devils Triangle”.
There are no shortages of speculation when it comes to the Bermuda Triangle. For years people have believed that these disappearances were due to either extra-terrestrial activity or perhaps bizarre scientific reasons making the entire area hazardous to all who pass through it.
More than likely, this phenomenon could be explained by simple bad luck. The whole idea of there being a “Vortex of Doom” is just as unlikely as the existence of Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster. The fact is that many a scientist and explorer has tried to uncover supernatural or scientific evidence but to no avail.
The Bermuda Triangle got its bad reputation from Christopher Columbus long ago. According to Columbus’s ship’s log dated the 8th of October 1492, the ship’s compass started giving strange readings. He decided not to alert his crew, because a compass that would not point to magnetic North would start a panic. This turned out to be a good idea because three days later Columbus saw a strange light and the crew almost mutinied.
There were other reported compass failures by other ship’s, which started a myth that no compass would work in the triangle. This was actually an exaggeration of what was really happening. Despite all of this, the US Coast Guard tried to explain the disappearances back in 1970. Their explanation was:
“First, the ‘Burmuda Triangle’ is one of the two places on earth that a magnetic compass does point towards true north. Normally it points toward magnetic north. The difference between the two is known as compass variation. The amount of variation changes by as much as 20 degrees as one circumnavigates the earth. If this compass variation or error is not compensated for, a navigator could find himself far off course and in deep trouble.”
Now, speaking as a man who has been through the Bermuda Triangle many times on planes, ship’s and
submarines, I can tell you that I have witnessed this phenomenon. On the USS Baton Rouge (SSN-689) I was standing by the secondary gyro compass back in 1986 as were transiting South towards Puerto Rico when the gyro compass failed.
The Master Chief Quartermaster explained to me that any ship’s navigator who was worth his salt knew well of this occurrence while passing through the area and knew how to compensate for it. It may very well have been an issue back in the day, but now its just the fuel of a good sea story.
In 2005, a TV producer from London asked the Coast Guard about it again for a program that he was trying to put together. This time they changed their tune a bit:
“Many explanations have cited unusual magnetic properties within the boundaries of the Triangle. Although the world’s magnetic fields are in constant flux, the ‘Bermuda Triangle’ has remained relatively undisturbed. It is true that some exceptional magnetic values have been reported within the Triangle, but none to make the Triangle more unusual than any other place on Earth.”
The legend of the modern Bermuda Triangle really didn’t start until late 1950. Edward Van Winkle Jones wrote an article that was picked up by the Associated Press that reported several lost ships and planes in the area. This included 5 Navy Torpedo bombers that vanished without a trace on December 5th, 1945, as well as two commercial airliners which disappeared in 1948 and 1949. Jones wrote that they were “swallowed without a trace.”
M.K. Jessup wrote a book in 1955 called “The Case for the UFO,” that started shining the light on alien life forms. Why not? There were no bodies or wreckage discovered. By the time 1964 rolled around, Vincent H. Gaddis, who first called the area the “Bermuda Triangle,” wrote his article claiming over 1000 people had lost their lives in the area. He quickly agreed that there was a pattern of strange events.
The obsession for the Bermuda Triangle peaked early in the 1970’s due to the publication of many paperbacks about the triangle, including Charles Berlitz’s book, “The Bermuda Triangle.”
Finally, in 1975, a critic named Larry Kusche, publisher of “The Bermuda Triangle Mystery: Solved,” argued that the other authors had not researched properly, and exaggerated their numbers. Some of the mysteries they professed were not mysteries at all, and some of the incidents didn’t even happen in the triangle.
After doing extensive research on the matter, Kusche concluded that the incidents that occurred within the Bermuda Triangle were actually no greater than the number of events that happen in other parts of the ocean with similar traffic. He went on to say that other writers had published misinformation, such as failing to report storms that happened at the same time as some occurrences.
In short, the previous authors of Bermuda Triangle stories did not do proper research and purposely or unintentionally made the stories up.
The book did such a great job of debunking the myths, that it pretty much ended most of the hype about the Bermuda Triangle. When other authors were not able to refute any of Kusche’s findings, even the most dedicated skeptics started to wonder about the validity of the stories. Nevertheless, there are still magazines, TV shows and movies that continue to feature the “Devils Triangle.”
Since the number of incidents inside of the Bermuda Triangle is no greater than any other area with similar shipping traffic, they really don’t need any explanation. But if you are still not convinced, here are some natural explanations that the Coast Guard gives for some of the occurrences:
– Most of the disappearances can be blamed on the unique features of the area. The Gulf Stream, which is the warm ocean current that flows from the Gulf of Mexico past the Florida Straits northeastward toward Europe, is very turbulent and swift. It could erase any evidence of a disaster very swiftly.
– Caribbean-Atlantic storms are very unpredictable and give birth to great waves and waterspouts that wreak havoc on pilots and mariners. This area is also known as “hurricane alley”, and houses some of the deepest marine trenches in the world. This is why the hurricanes that pass through there become so powerful.
– And let’s not underestimate the human factor. A very large number of pleasure crafts travel the waters between Florida’s Gulf coast and the Bahamas. Anyone who speeds through this area with insufficient knowledge of the unique conditions is just looking for trouble.