The Bermuda (Devil's) Triangle

Definition: The Bermuda Triangle is a triangular area of the North Atlantic Ocean, which is noted for an allegedly high incidence of unexplained disappearances of private, commercial, and military sea going vessels and aircraft. 1, 2, 4, 5
Bermuda Triangle map
The Bermuda Triangle

Bermuda Triangle Map?

Not really. The U. S. Board of Geographic Names does not recognize the Bermuda Triangle as an official name and does not maintain an official file on the area. No US Government-issued maps delineate the boundaries of the Bermuda Triangle.2, 4

As described by most Bermuda Triangle authors, the apexes of the triangle are roughly defined as pointing to Miami, Florida; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and the Island of Bermuda. However, depending on which author you believe, the size of the Bermuda Triangle varies from 500,000 square miles to over a million miles.1, 2, 5

Composing the Bermuda Triangle

According to author Howard Rosenberg, during the past century more than 50 ships and 20 aircraft vanished in the Bermuda Triangle, also known as the Devil's Triangle or the Hoodoo Sea.6 However, some authors trace its peculiarities back to the time of Christopher Columbus, claiming he was the first to document the strange phenomena of the Bermuda Triangle.1,5

E.V.W. Jones opened the floodgates of Bermuda Triangle notoriety in the first published newspaper article on the subject, distributed on September 16, 1950, by the Associated Press.

TBF Avengers
TBF (Avengers) similar to Flight 19.

In his article, “Sea Mystery at Our Back Door”, George X. Sand described the disappearance of several airplanes and ships, including the story of Flight 19 in the October 1952 issue of Fate magazine. Sand was the first to define the borders of the then, unnamed Bermuda Triangle.

It wasn’t until February 1964 that Vincent Gaddis coined the name “Bermuda Triangle” in an article published by Argosy Magazine.1, 5

Over the years, there have been dozens of articles, books, and television programs promoting the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle. However, in his 1975 book, “The Bermuda Triangle Mystery Solved”, author Larry Kusche reported that few investigated the mystery before passing on the speculations and rumors that surrounded each incident.5

Vanished in the Bermuda Triangle

The most notable US Navy losses, which have occurred in the Bermuda Triangle, are USS Cyclops in March 1918 and the aircraft of Flight 19 in December 1945. The Navy believes that the Cyclops probably sank in an unexpected storm and that Flight 19 probably ran out of fuel and crashed into the ocean. No physical trace of either vessel has ever been found.4

Myth or Metaphysical?

The causes of Bermuda Triangle vanishings are often attributed to the paranormal, a suspension of the laws of physics, or even UFOs and extraterrestrial beings.

The Bermuda Triangle encompasses one of the most heavily sailed shipping lanes in the world, with commercial vessels, cruise ships and pleasure craft navigating it daily. Fleets of both commercial and private aircraft also frequent its skies.1 Lloyd’s of London, the world's leading market for specialized insurance, does not charge higher premiums for vessels that navigate these busy waters.4

According to the US Coast Guard, Navy, and some investigators, the number of losses is unsurprising, considering the Bermuda Triangle’s size, location and the amount of traffic it receives.5 In reviewing aircraft and seafaring vessel losses over the years, the military has discovered nothing that indicates the disappearances are the result of any metaphysical cause.7

For over 20 years, Navy's Project Magnet has surveyed the world, mapping the earth's magnetic fields. Rosenberg, author of “Exorcising the Devil’s Triangle” quotes Henry P. Stockard, project director as saying, "We have passed over the area hundreds of times and never noticed any unusual magnetic disturbances." 6

In a theory proposed by Dr. Ben Clennell, of Leeds University, England, one explanation cites the presence of vast fields of methane hydrates on the North Atlantic’s continental shelves. Clennell claims that methane gas, locked below the sea sediments, may be responsible for some of the mysterious disappearances. He proposes that subterranean landslides may unlock the gas, allowing it to bubble to the surface and reduce the density of the water. “This would make any ship floating above sink like a rock.” 1, 2

Most disappearances can be attributed to human error, mechanical failures, or the Bermuda Triangle’s unusual environmental features.2 For instance, the turbulent Gulf Stream, which rapidly flows through the Bermuda Triangle, may easily dispel any evidence of a shipwreck or plane crash.

The Sargasso Sea

The Sargasso Sea, the only "sea" without shores lies deceptively in the Bermuda Triangle surrounded by North Atlantic currents. It’s bordered on the west by the Gulf Stream, the north by the North Atlantic Current, the Canary Current on the east, and North Atlantic Equatorial Current on the south; a system of currents that forms the North Atlantic Subtropical Gyre.

This often windless sea is roughly 700 statute miles wide and 2,000 statute miles long. It’s filled with whirlpool-like currents and unexpected nets of seaweed, called sargassum, that lie in wait to entangle the engines of unwary sea going vessels. Sometimes called the "graveyard of ships", the Sargasso Sea is frequently declared the culprit in the unexplained disappearances that occur in the Bermuda Triangle.3

Although substantial documentation exists, showing numerous incidents inaccurately reported or embellished by over zealous authors, some Bermuda Triangle disappearances remain unexplained.1

1. “Bermuda Triangle 13 April 2008 Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 17 April 2008. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bermuda_Triangle.>
2. “The Bermuda Triangle, A chronological database of disappearances in the triangle.” 2008?. Untitled. 17Apr 2008.<http://www.byerly.org/bt.htm.>
3. “Sargasso Sea - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.”13 April 2008 Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 16 April 2008 < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sargasso_Sea.>
4. “Bermuda Triangle.” 11 April 2007. The Naval Historical Center. 17 April 2008. <http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq8-1.htm>
5. Robert Todd Carroll. “Bermuda Triangle.” 3 December 2007. Skeptic's Dictionary 17 April 2008. <http://skepdic.com/bermuda.html>.
6. Howard Rosenberg. "Exorcising the Devil's Triangle." Sealift 24, no. 6 (June 1974): 11-1. 12 May 1996. Naval Historical Center 17 April 2008. <http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq8-3.htm>.
7. “US Coast Guard History FAQS.” December 1997. US Coast Guard. 17 April 2008. <http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-cp/history/faqs/triangle.html>.
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