Are the different stories of the Bermuda Triangle true? It is considered one of the biggest mysteries of our time, and nobody knows for sure if it is an actual phenomenon or just a made-up story. There are many different theories floating around the world trying to explain the unusual disappearances of planes and ships within the Bermuda Triangle. Could it be UFOs or a sea monster in the ocean? What if there were pockets of gas lodged deep in the ocean floor that caused ships to sink to the bottom and planes to explode in mid-air? Or could it just be people getting caught in the wrong place at the wrong time?
The Bermuda Triangle is located in the Atlantic Ocean. The points of the triangle are said to be Bermuda; Miami, Fla; and San Juan, Puerto Rico, however no maps show the actual boundaries of the triangle.1 They are simply an estimate based on different peoples beliefs. But these three places have come to be known as the boundaries of the Triangle.
The term Bermuda Triangle first came about in an article written by Vincent H. Gaddis for Argosy magazine in 1964. He claimed that within the triangle a number of ships and planes had disappeared without any explanation. In Fate Magazine (1952), George X. Sands noted an unusually large number of strange accidents in the region, but never used the term Bermuda Triangle.
There were also other published works about the Triangle. For example, in 1969, John Wallace Spencer wrote a book called Limbo of the Lost. It was the first book written solely on the subject of the Triangle. Two years later, a feature documentary on The Devils Triangle, another name used for the Triangle. This was published in 1974.2
Even though the first stories written about the Triangle didnt appear until the 1950s, there have been reports that Christopher Columbus could have experienced the Bermuda Triangles weirdness.3 As Columbuss three ships, the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria sailed through the Triangles region in 1492, it was reported that the compasses went haywire. Reports also indicated that his crew saw weird lights in the sky, however these events can never be confirmed since all members of the crew are dead and the stories might have been twisted as they passed through the different generations.
We can however, receive some credibility from Columbuss journal. He wrote about an inaccuracy with his compass, but that is most likely can be attributed to the variation between true north and magnetic north. Columbus also wrote about the lights saying he saw a great flame of fire crash into the ocean. Today, researchers say it was most likely a meteor. He also reported seeing lights on October 11, which happens to be the day before he landed in the Bahamas. Now, the lights are said to be brief flashes near the horizon, seen because of the different landforms on the coast.
The first time the legend of the Bermuda Triangle was actually taken seriously was the disappearance of Flight 19. It took place on December 5, 1945 during a routine training mission, when five Navy Avenger bombers vanished without a trace. Not only did the five Navy planes disappear, but a search plane sent out to try to rescue them was gone also. All in all, six aircraft and 27 men were lost, and nothing was ever found of them.4 This seems pretty weird and unusual, and it is, but when all the facts came about, these disappearances could be explained much more logically than thought of before.
Out of all the crewmen that were part of Flight 19, only one was experienced, patrol leader Lt. Charles Taylor. However, some reports say that even Taylor was not up to the missions duties. Reports later said that he was suffering from a hangover and tried to pass off his flight duty to someone else, but was unable to. So now we have four inexperienced pilots and a patrol leader still feeling the effects of too many beers the night before. Not exactly the perfect situation.
Not far into flight, Taylor realized that his compass was malfunctioning. He decided to fly on pure gut feeling and started navigating by trying to sight landmarks below. Since he lived in the area, he was confident that he was familiar enough with the Florida Keys to fly by sight. However, his visibility was soon impaired because of a brewing storm.
The Fort Lauderdale air base was still able to receive radio contact with Flight 19 even though one of the Avengers had a bad receiver. The incoming storm was also having an effect on the quality of the radio contact.
Because of the storm impairing his vision, he thought that they were over the Gulf of Mexico, and ordered the Avengers to fly east in search of land. Unfortunately, they were actually heading up the Atlantic coastline and Taylor was leading the other pilots further out to sea. After hearing some radio recordings, experts think they may have indicated to Taylor that Florida was actually to the west of them instead of east.
After realizing that Flight 19 was most definitely lost, a search party was sent out, including a Martin Mariner that is claimed to have also disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle. It is true that the Mariner never returned, but it never vanished into the Triangle. Witnesses report seeing it blow up 23 seconds after takeoff. This was not even an unusual thing because Mariners were well known for their faulty gas tanks.
The wreckage of Flight 19 has never been discovered. A logical explanation is that Taylor led the planes so far out to sea that they were past the continental shelf. At the continental shelf, the ocean suddenly drops from a couple hundred feet to several thousand. If a plane or ship were lost over that area, they most likely would never be seen again.
After the public found out about Flight 19, different theories came about. Stories of magnetic fields, time warps, Atlantis and even alien abduction appeared. An official Navy document even indicated that Flight 19 had disappeared as if they had flown to Mars.5 This is not a very educated claim however, due to the combining circumstances that seem to point to human and mechanical error such as, the failing compass and not being able to establish radio transmissions. The only thing that would give these far-fetched theories one bit of credibility is that no wreckage has ever been found.
Several books suggest that the unusual disappearances that took place within the Triangle were caused by an intelligent, technologically advanced species living in space or under the sea. Rumors of sea monsters have also been brought up, but this is probably the most far-fetched theory about the Triangle.
The theory that most people seem to believe is the theory of human-error. In most disappearances, there has been at least a small amount of evidence to point towards this theory. There have been times that crossings were made with too small a boat. Or sometimes people just dont have enough knowledge of the areas hazards or not have enough experience on the water or in the air.
This theory can be considered one of the most credible because it is the only one that seems to make sense all of the time. Also, many ships and planes go through that area today, and not nearly as many disappearances have happened in recent years. A possible theory to the reason the disappearances have decreased could be credited to better educating pilots and skippers about the many hazards of the Bermuda Triangle.
Another theory that tries to explain the disappearances is the True North vs. Magnetic North Theory. To educated scientists, this theory is either thought of as a very credible theory or just a hoax.
The region of the Bermuda Triangle is only one of two places on the earth that a magnetic compass points towards true north. This is the theory that the Coast Guard credits for the disappearances. It reads in part:
Countless theories attempting to explain the many disappearances have been offered throughout the history of the area. The most practical seem to be environmental and those citing human error. The majority of disappearances can be attributed to the areas unique environmental features. First, the Devils Triangle is one of two places on earth that a magnetic compass points 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.6
Compass variation is the amount of difference between the North Pole and the Magnetic North Pole at any given location. In order to stay on course you would have to make a simple navigational adjustment to stay on course. 7
This theory receives ridicule because the area of the compass varies is very small compared to the size of the triangle. This theory also does not mention that all navigational charts have the amount of compass variation on every degree of longitude. A navigator cannot even plot a course without having a navigational chart, so he would not be able to chart a course without knowing the amount of variations.8
However, this theory could go along with the human-error theory because if a pilot or skipper wasnt experienced, they might not calculate correctly. This isnt a totally credible theory, but it could have contributed to quite a few disappearances.
The theory of methane-hydrates causing the disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle has been considered as of right now, not a legitimate theory. Dr. Ben Clennell of Leeds University in England was not the first to attribute methane hydrates as the cause of the disappearances, but has become considered the leading backer since September 21, 1998 when he proposed methane-hydrates as the future of energy at the Festival of Earth Sciences in Cardiff, Wales.9
At the festival he claimed that methane locked below the sea sediments in the Triangles region explained all about the mysterious disappearances. He went on to explain that subterranean landslides could unlock the beds of methane-hydrates. He told the audience at the festival that if this took place it would be disastrous because large amounts of methane could reduce the density of the water. This would make any ship floating above sink like a rock, he said. He explained that methane is a highly combustible gas that could also ignite aircraft engines and blow them to pieces.10
Methane-hydrates are like a web of ice containing methane molecules. Naturally a gas, methane can freeze at temperatures higher than regular ice. They exist all over the world and can occur both under water and land. However, under water it can only appear at depths below 1,000 feet from the surface of the water.
The reason this theory doesnt get much respect because it is lacking several pieces of key information. The only reason it got any coverage at all was because the press took hold of it and promoted it. At first, it sounds like a credible theory until you really dig deep and look at the facts. For one, the region of the Triangle does not have the highest concentration of methane hydrates. There happens to be more off the coast of the Carolinas. And two, most of the ships and planes that have disappeared were not in the area of the Triangle where the methane hydrate beds are located.
Another key fact is that drilling rigs have accidentally drilled into methane-hydrate beds. They slowly sunk to the less dense water, later reaching the bottom. But this was not a fast sinking, it was slow enough that they could signal in their problem and be rescued. Plus, while this was happening, news helicopters would fly overhead to capture these weird occurrences taking place. Oddly, none of these aircrafts blew to pieces. This made Dr. Clennells theory lose quite a bit of credibility.
This theory can also not explain the disappearances that happened near the coast of the Bahamas. The water along the coast is only about 50 feet, so no methane-hydrates could ever be found in that area. After fierce interrogations, Dr. Clennell later admitted that he had found a large bed of methane on the coastline near the Bermuda Triangle which eventually threw out all hope of Clennells theory being true.
Also, the fact that the Triangle is located right in the middle of hurricane alley could attribute to the missing ships and planes. It wouldnt explain all of the disappearances, but it does give us another thing to consider.
Another aspect of the Bermuda Triangle mystery is the topography of the ocean floor. The sea floor varies from extensive shoals around the islands to some of the deepest canyons in the world. This helps the mystery along, because if you cant find the wreckage, there is always some type of chance that the far-fetched theories could be true. In fact, the Bermuda Triangle is home to the deepest point in the Atlantic Ocean, the Puerto Rico Trench. It is 30,100 feet deep and if a ship or plane were lost over this trench, it would be virtually impossible to ever find the wreckage.11
Although we cannot confirm that the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle is fiction, there is a significant amount of evidence showing that the Triangle is simply a region where storms are unpredictable and the region just seems to have many more shipwrecks then other places in the world. It seems that the Triangle was just some theory one guy thought of and that got some of his friends interested and the theory just took off and got too big. They were convincing enough and then it got so big, it couldnt be brought back down to earth. This might not be true, but it is some sort of logical explanation. People are always trying to come up with different ways to scare themselves. This could be the same reason people go to scary movies. It’s just something that we like to do.
However, we will never be sure exactly what the Triangle is or if it even exists. All we know is that there are 200-plus missing ships and planes and we do not have a factual explanation for them. It could be that aliens abducted them, or that they just fell off the Puerto Rico Trench and will never be seen again. Since many pleasure boats travel through the Triangles region today and there have been no high-profile disappearances, we can say that the big hype of the Triangle could be over. Yes, there will always be some people that believe, but most have just accepted that they were accidents and they were just lost too far out to sea to ever be found again.
So even though we may never know the exact truth, it will always be a fascinating kind of legend that people will come across later on and bring back to life. People will always be intrigued by such stories, legends, and theories, and will believe what they want, but I think we can put this story back in the National Enquirer right next to the one about the woman who spotted Elvis being abducted by aliens.
1 Bermuda Triangle http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq8-1.htm; Department of the Navy-Naval Historical Center; August 8, 2001
2 The Un-Museum: The Bermuda Triangle http://www.unmuseum.mus.pa.us/triangle; 1997
3 A Brief History of the Devils Triangle http://www.parascope.com/en/bermuda1.htm; 1999
4 A Brief History of the Devils Triangle
5A Brief History of the Devils Triangle
6 Magnetic North/True North http://bermuda-triangle.org/Theories/True_North_Magnetic_North_/true_north_magnetic_north_.html
7 Magnetic North/True North
8 Magnetic North/True North
9 Theories Methane Hydrates; http://bermuda-triangle.org/Theories/Methane_Hydrates/methane_hydrates.html; 2002
11 A Brief History of the Devils Triangle