Tonight we discuss the Bermuda Triangle, aka the Devil’s Triangle. Is the curse of the Bermuda Triangle real? Follow along with us to find out the truth about this section between Bermuda, Puerto Rico, and Florida.
The Devil’s Triangle appears as beautifully blue as any other ocean in the world. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to say just when you cross its boundaries without using a GPS. It is located in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean. This region is loosely considered to run from Miami, Florida to San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Bermuda.
However, that depends on who you listen to. Writers throughout the years have given a wide variety of boundaries to the triangle. With the area widely ranging between 500,00 to just over 1.5 million square miles. (Which is 1.3 million to 3.9 million for those of you who measure in kilometers!) There have even been a few who have tried stretching the triangle beyond Bermuda and out to the coast of Ireland! Seeing as how there are so many different borders to the Triangle, it’s easy to see how the numbers of supposed victims can change so much between varied reports.
The earliest anyone ever reported of so-called “unusual vanishings” in the Bermuda region appeared in an article by a man with the fantastic moniker of Edward Van Winkle Jones. Jones, an Associated Press reporter was published in the Miami Herald under their “Same Big World” segment. The article, dated September 17th, 1950, was titled “Sea’s Puzzles Still Baffle Men in Pushbutton Age”. It’s an interesting read. It even includes a hand-drawn map.
The article covers the loss of the 350 ft freighter, the Sandra. Which was carrying 300 tons of insecticide bound for Puerto Cabello, Venezuela, along with its 12 men crew. She carried a radio, but no cries were heard. She left Savannah, Georgia in June of 1950 and was never heard from again.
Then there is the plane that disappeared on December 27th, 1948, carrying 32 persons – men, women, and two children. Who boarded a plane in San Juan Puerto Rico, and were flying to sunny Miami. A flight of only 1000 miles. A radio message was received at 4 am, reporting that they were just 50 miles south of their destination. But they never arrived.
Or the British airliner, the Ariel, that vanished into thin air. The plane flew out of Bermuda with 12 aboard, making their way from London to Chile on January 18, 1949. The United States Navy was on maneuvers with a vast force just south of Bermuda. Maneuvers were canceled. The aircraft carriers, cruisers, and destroyers were combing the waterings with every available man keeping a sharp watch…but nothing was found.
A year before that, on January 31st, 1948, another British plane, the Star Tiger, was approaching Bermuda. It had radioed its position several times throughout its flight. But then came radio silence. No one knows what became of the 29 people on board.
Even older is the well-known tale of the 5 torpedo planes out of the Navy’s Fort Lauderdale, FL air station that disappeared on December 5th, 1945. Out on a navigational training flight went 14 crewmen. There were no calls of their progress- no calls of distress – no calls at all. Search planes were sent out after it became evident that the torpedo planes would not be returning. They had most likely run out of fuel by then; amongst the rescue mounted was a large rescue craft – a PBM with 13 souls aboard. Considered at the time the “greatest search in Florida’s history”, no hint of the torpedo planes or their crew was found. Then, the PBM equally went missing.
All of these covered items are part of the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle. But the first to actually delineate the Triangle as a triangular shape was George Sand. Sand wrote an article in Fate magazine titled “Sea Mystery at our Back Door”, in October 1952. This was two years after Jones’ article appeared.
The person who officially coined the phrase “the Bermuda Triangle” is author Vincent Gaddis. He wrote an article for the pulp magazine Argosy, titled “The Deadly Bermuda Triangle”. Apparently, it was catchy- originally published in February of 1964 the name is still in use today!
There are so many missing in the triangle, that we could talk for hours, just listing those disappearances attributed to the Triangle, without even getting into the possibilities of what may be causing them!
Scholars even believe that Shakespeare’s play The Tempest was inspired by it. Admiral Somers ran his resupply ship, the Sea Venture aground in Bermuda in 1609. The Admiral and crew were stranded for 10 months. Somers and crew luckily survived to sail again.
The Admiral, however, did not live long after. Returning to Virginia in May of 1610, the Admiral was sent back to the Bermuda islands a few weeks later. There he died in November of that year. His nephew went on to bury his uncle’s heart and entrails on what was to become the Somer Islands in Bermuda. He then sailed back to England to bury the rest of the Admiral’s body.
However, mysterious instances within the Triangle are not just a modern thing. Even Christopher Columbus had his experiences.
During his travels in 1492, Columbus reported many strange sights as he sailed within the Triangle. His ship’s logs first indicate that the stars appeared to move around in the sky. He saw a light, like that of a candle, moving up and down in the distance that disappeared and reappeared numerous times. He writes of a glowing object that came up out of the water and shot up towards the sky. Another account states that a ball of fire crashed into the water and that the compass readings would change wildly.
But then, Columbus thought he had reached Asia. That was with the use of the compass on board and not just dead reconning. The compass of Columbus’ day was held in a frame and divided its circle into 32 parts. It was a pretty nifty device for navigation of the time, considering the use of a sextant was a new thing. It was only really useful if you could actually see the stars. Seeing as how the stars were doing the boogaloo and not staying fixed in their positions, the sextant would have been fairly useless.
See More Stories at the End
Some Natural Theories
So what could be causing the varying phenomenon reported, or causing ships and planes to go missing at sea?
A wide range of perfectly rational, scientifically-based things, really.
The area of the Triangle is frequented by tropical cyclones and wild, stormy weather, often seeming to rush in out of the blue.
Many hurricanes pass through the Triangle as the curve of the Eastern Seaboard redirects them.
Many lost flights and ships reported happened in the time before modern-day satellites. So those traveling in the Triangle could have little to no warning of the violent weather approaching rapidly.
The sinking of one such ship, the Pride of Baltimore back on May 14, 1986, has been attributed to a powerful downdraft of cold air. The crew noted the wind shifted suddenly and increase from 20 mph to 90. (32 kph to 145kph). A similar incident occurred to the Concordia in 2010 off the coast of Brazil.
A National Hurricane Center satellite specialist, James Lushine, stated “during very unstable weather conditions the downburst of cold air from aloft can hit the surface like a bomb, exploding outward like a giant squall line of wind and water.”
Compass trouble seems to be the most widely reported issue, based on radio calls that are documented.
Compasses have natural magnetic variations in relation to the magnetic poles. Navigators have known about this for centuries- variations that change with time. For Columbus, when he sailed into the Triangle, it was at a time when true north and magnetic north lined up. This would explain his crazy readings.
For those missing Naval trainees, if the leader of the flight’s compass was malfunctioning, it would be easy to get lost out where there is no land in sight. It’s only a matter of time before the fuel runs out and you are forced to ditch at sea.
Missing freighters and boats could capsize under swell waves or even rogue waves. Rogue waves can occur amongst a set of smaller waves. Making it twice or more as high as the waves they travel with.
A ship could weather medium-sized waves without an alarm and be caught by surprise by a rogue amongst them.
Most reports of these extreme rogue waves say they look like “walls of water”. They can be seen as steep-sided with unusually deep troughs.
The USS Ramapo reported one such wave with a height of 112 feet in the Pacific in 1933.
Another report of a freak wave occurred with it struck the Queen Mary amidships, south of Newfoundland, at the end of World War II. It rolled her to within a degree or two of capsizing.
Rogue waves have been known to hit hard enough to damage a ship’s hull.
The Sargasso Sea is also considered a possible troublemaker for ships in the past.
Unlike other seas, the Sargasso has no shore but is located within the Atlantic Ocean. It is bound on all sides by different currents. These include the Gulf Stream, the North Atlantic Current, the Canary Current, and the North Atlantic Equatorial Current. The four currents form a clockwise circulating system of ocean currents known as the North Atlantic Gyre.
The sea is noted for its calm, blue waters that are exceptionally clear. With reported depths visible of up to 200 ft (or 61 meters). It has a distinctive brown seaweed along its surface.
The trouble, as Christopher Columbus himself feared, is that there are not always winds to help sailors to sail through. The seaweed might tangle his ship and hold it in place. As well as hide shallow waters and shoals that could run them aground in the middle of a big blue undrinkable nowhere.
Other Natural Phenonmenon
Hexagonal or “honeycomb” clouds are an odd weather pattern noted over the Bermuda Triangle. Noted by meteorologist Dr. Randy Cerveny has stated, “these types of hexagonal shapes in the ocean are in essence air bombs. They are formed by what is microbursts and they are blasts of air”.
These downbursts can reach speeds of 170 mph!
Methane hydrates – which is a form of natural gas, abound on the continental shelves.
Methane we already know through global warming is being released from thawing ground in Siberia.
In the area of the Triangle, it’s been hypothesized that periodically methane can erupt from the seafloor. If the eruption is large enough it can produce regions of frothy water than cannot provide adequate buoyancy for ships. If a ship sailed into this, or an eruption happened beneath them, the ship could sink rapidly and without warning.
The USGS has agreed that there are large stores of undersea methane hydrates under the Blake Ridge area off the coast of Florida. However, they have no proof any large releases have happened in the Triangle for the past 15,000 years.
Despite this reassurance, it’s been suggested by theorists that these gas blowouts could release a plume of gas. These could once reaching the sea’s surface and bubbling away merrily, sink ships. Also, the gas could then rise into the sky, exploding once they contact hot airplane engines.
The Truth About the Triangle
Regardless of storms, reefs, and the Gulf Stream, Lloyd’s of London, a prominent maritime insurance company, doesn’t find the Triangle a hazardous place. Nor do they raise premiums for those who sail there. In fact, the Bermuda Triangle is one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. The vast majority of ships that pass through do so unscathed.
Likewise, the US Coast Guard has gone off the record with the following statement:
“In a review of many aircraft and vessel losses in the area over the years, there has been nothing discovered that would indicate that casualties were the result of anything other than physical causes. No extraordinary factors have ever been identified.”
Do we only seem to find so many disappearances mysterious as these are the only ones reported? The number of people who travel around in the Triangle is so high, that, in comparison with the rest of the world, the missing is a statistic that is right on average with the rest of the world.
Truth Behind the Stories Above
But before getting into the fantastical, let’s go back to a few of those cases we mentioned at the top of the show, and a little thing we call human error in reporting.
Take the torpedo planes on the navigation exercise. The navigation instructor was ill at ease that morning. He tried to reschedule the exercise but was denied, as he had no valid reason for putting it off. Mr. Jones states in his article that there were no radio signals whatsoever. But it’s on record that the flight leader, Lt Charles C Taylor radioed Ft Lauderdale saying “Both of my compasses are out…and I am trying to find Fort Lauderdale. I don’t know how far down….don’t know how to get to Fort Lauderdale.”
Then his transmissions got stranger. “Everything looks strange, even the ocean. We are entering white water, nothing seems right”. It turns out he was over the Bahamas. But thought, due to compass malfunction, that he was flying the other way and was over the Florida Keys.
It is on record that his students suggested they fly west, but he refused.
His last transmission clearly stated that they would ditch their aircraft when they ran out of fuel.
It has also been noted on other sites that Taylor was nursing a hangover. He also forgot his watch and had a history of ditching two planes previous to this flight, due to his bad sense of direction. So no, they didn’t just magically disappear without saying a word.
The PBM and the Star Tiger
And that rescue PBM that went out searching for them and never returned?
“It didn’t vanish without a trace,” said Mr. Karl Kruszelnicki, a popular Australian scientist on Australian TV and radio- who is a skeptic of the Triangle’s eerie reputation.. “[It] was seen to blow up.”
There were several witnesses to the explosion; an oil slick and debris were found; and after the disaster, the US Navy grounded all other PBM-Mariner seaplanes. The aircraft had already gained the ominous nickname ‘flying gas tanks’.
Take the English passenger airliner, the Star Tiger, that was flying from San Juan to Miami with 29 passengers and 3 crew.
First, Mr. Jones didn’t even bother to include the 3 crew members in his article.
It turns out before the plane even left San Juan that it had technical issues. The landing gear had a warning light that was malfunctioning, and the plane’s batteries were low. After a few quick repairs, they were cleared to take off.
Communications then became a problem. Rather than transmissions going to Miami, they were transmitting to New Orleans. New Orleans was forced to relay the information to the proper airport. Eventually, the communications stopped altogether.
Since that time a plane of the same make and model has been located, sunk in the Triangle. No one has been able to confirm if it was the Star Tiger.
What does this go to show? That writers do not always have all of the information at hand when they put the proverbial pen to paper. Or they leave parts out. Let’s face it, sensationalism sells. One author is quoted by another who adds his own bit, who is then quoted by another.
People also sometimes put their faith in the wrong reports
In September OF 2015, a story made the rounds on Facebook. “BERMUDA TRIANGLE: SHIP REAPPEARS 90 YEARS AFTER GOING MISSING” read the headline from WorldNewsDailyReport.com. It was accompanied by a photo of a rusty boat floating off the coast of Cuba. The story claimed Cuban authorities had intercepted the ship. Which had somehow been floating around undetected for a century. It was shared thousands of times on Facebook, reaching hundreds of thousands of users.
The story claimed the ghost ship was the S.S. Cotopaxi, a real coal ship that went missing on November 29, 1925 while traveling from Charleston to Havana with 3,800 tons of coal and 32 passengers.
Fun fact though. In Steven Spielberg’s 1977 film Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the Cotopaxi somehow winds up in the Gobi Desert. It was perfectly intact—after going missing in the Bermuda Triangle.
Getting back to the story at hand, the World News Daily has since added a disclaimer at the bottom of its homepage. It reads:
“World News Daily Report assumes all responsibility for the satirical nature of its articles and for the fictional nature of their content. All characters appearing in the articles on this website—even those based on real people—are entirely fictional and any resemblance between them and any person, living, dead or undead, is purely a miracle.”
Sometimes people are interviewed well after the fact when memories are not as clear.
Or a witness’s story gets a bit more creative as it means a bigger payout and recognition. As it is he with the best story that gets his name in print and all the recognition that goes with it.
Even Experts Can Be Wrong
And, most significantly, it has been proven time and again that authors and so-called experts, often present the weather wrong. Calm skies and seas instead of the high winds, looming cloud cover, and strong swells that are meteorologically on record.
We aren’t stating this is necessarily being done on purpose. But myths and tall tales have a way of growing and evolving and then becoming used for a fact.
Some of those listed as “missing without a trace” really did leave traces behind.
In 1963, the SS Marine Sulphur Queen, a large tanker ship carrying 39 passengers and molten sulfur, was last seen near the southern coast of Florida. After more than two weeks of looking, the rescue team only found a few pieces of debris and life preservers.
In 1967, the people on the 590-foot cargo ship Sylvia L. Ossa became victims of the Triangle’s mysteries when the ship suddenly disappeared with 37 people on board. Though debris including a life preserver and a lifeboat was found, the ship itself was never again detected.
So what else could it be?
Well, terror on the high seas back in the day. Even now often means pirates, but that would not explain aircraft. So theories range, but no single theory seems to fill every situation of how people could have gone missing.
History.com went so far as to quote one skeptic who summed it up:
“Trying to find a common cause for every Bermuda Triangle disappearance is no more logical than trying to find a common cause for every automobile accident in Arizona”.
Everything from Atlantis attacking those who come close, to aliens, sea monsters like a giant squid, or a remnant from the age of the dinosaur, known as a Plesiosaur (PLESS E O SOAR), similar to the Loch Ness Monster out on a bender. Time warps and reverse gravity fields have also been blamed by those supernaturally minded. Wormholes and supernatural vortexes suck those caught into other dimensions.
Atlantis or Aliens?
In 1974, author Charles Berlitz was inspired to write a book, called “The Bermuda Triangle” that went global. Over 20 million copies were sold in 30 different languages. Berlitz tried pinning it on both Atlantis and aliens. He had learned about the Triangle from his travel agent who mentioned customers avoiding flights that went over the region.
I guess having Atlanteans tag-teaming abductions with aliens made for better sales.
After all, how was anyone going to fact-check this in 1974- Snopes didn’t launch until.1995.
The theory of Atlantis holds quite the suspension of belief. It states that Atlantean fire crystals provided tremendous power to the city. This simply now obliterates any vessel that comes close to its sunken city walls. This is done through transmissions of huge waves of energy.
For a city that stood for peace and goodwill to all, that’s a lousy way to go down in history. With your fantastical and clean green energy technology going AWOL.
Writers at the U.K, Sun claim UFOs at work. They seem to believe that the aliens are using the Triangle as a portal to travel to and from our planet. Also, saying the Triangle is a gathering station where they capture people, ships, and aircraft to conduct research.
I guess cows just weren’t good enough anymore. But if aliens in spacecraft are really among us, stealing our ships and aircraft would be more of an archeologist dig into ancient technology for them, wouldn’t it?
Pyramids or Testing Facility?
The Sun has also claimed that an oceanographer named Dr. Meyer Verlag found a giant crystal pyramid 2000 ft underwater within the Triangle’s boundaries (some reports say two pyramids). The pyramid had clear, smooth crystal-like sides that were “three times the size of the pyramids of Cheops” (CHEE OPPS). Also, it had been created by a technology that is unknown to modern science. Dr. Verlag stated she believes that the secrets hidden in the pyramid’s center would reveal information about all of the mysterious disappearances that are associated with the Triangle.
It’s a shame no one can find information on the press conference she held. Nor can they find any proof that Dr. Verlag actually existed.
It makes you wonder though. If the aliens know how to make pretty crystal pyramids, why would they have bothered with mud, straw, and stones in Egypt?
There are claims that the US Navy has an underwater testing and evaluation center within the Triangle. It’s said to be a hub used to test submarines, weapons, sonar, secret projects, and reverse-engineered alien technology. As such, the government is behind the disappearances in order to protect their secrets.
Electric Fog or Gremlins?
Electric Fog pops up on both skeptics and wild theorist sites. Depending on who you speak to, its either a harmless effect. Possibly similar to St Elmo’s Fire. Something that envelopes and destroys electrical impulses in engines. This would cause planes to crash. Or a phenomenon that opens a portal to a different point in space and/or time.
Gremlins – not the result of cute little Mogwai’s getting wet,
Gremlins are a mythical sort of anti-fairy or goblin which cause havoc on aircraft, though they have also been said to be destructive to any technology since the industrial revolution.
Stories of Gremlins were first noted in the 1920’s, though the popularity rose during WW2 as an excuse for any mechanical breakdown.
Theorists believe Gremlins once taught humanity all we know about machinery, but we showed no gratitude or acknowledgement of their help. As such, our arrogance is now being repaid by the sabotage of man-made machines, leading to the disappearances.
Souls of the Dead and Meteorites
Another theory is that of the Triangle being filled with the souls of the dead, thrown overboard by heartless sea captains and pirates throughout history. It is also claimed in this theory that a haunting sound can be heard while sailing in the Triangle’s notorious waters as a warning.
A meteorite has been said to be to blame for the navigational malfunctions surrounding the Triangle. It’s believed the comet struck earth and crashed into the ocean more than 10,000 years ago. It is non-detectable by scientists because it landed in an incredibly deep trench. However, it is close enough to the surface that its extraterrestrial nature interferes with navigational equipment.
And one Redditor, going by the moniker u/dr_frosty_funk (You Doctor Frosty Funk) tossed out this idea:
If the Earth is flat, then Bermuda Triangle could be it’s edge.
THE ELLEN AUSTIN:
When the Ellen Austin approached the foggy waters of the Sargasso Sea — an area of the Atlantic Ocean that overlaps with the Bermuda Triangle — the crew encountered a fully stocked, abandoned ship.
Seeing this as an opportunity to seize valuable cargo, they sent some of their men in to occupy the ship and sail the remaining journey side by side. But a wicked storm quickly separated the two ships, and when they were reunited the next day, there wasn’t a trace of the crew in sight.
The ship was once more abandoned but left packed with valuable resources, so the captain of the Ellen Austin tried boarding it again. But when crew members got aboard for the second time, a thick and blinding fog rolled in and separated the ships. When the fog finally cleared, the “ghost” ship had completely vanished, according to stories recounted in contemporary newspapers.
In 1978, an experienced pilot named Irving Rivers departed from the US Virgin Islands on a solo flight to pick up passengers in St. Thomas. The weather was calm and Rivers was just one mile from landing when his signal lights suddenly disappeared from the radar. A search team was sent to look for him, but the plane was never found.
THE MARY CELESTE:
Possibly one of the most mysterious stories of shipwrecks, this ship is a tale of its own. Despite being found adrift in the Azores, which is not in the Triangle, she has been included amongst the Triangle’s missing all the same by many a source.
Discovered on 4th December 1872 with everything right in the place except for the entire crew, the ship was found stranded on the sea days after starting its journey from New York to Genoa, Italy.
There were seven crew members and Captain Benjamin Briggs, his wife, and their two-year-old daughter aboard the vessel, loaded with raw alcohol.
But, days after, when a passing British ship called Dei Gratia found Mary Celeste under partial sail in the Atlantic, off the Azores Islands, the ship was unmanned with no crew abroad, and the lifeboat was also missing.
It was also found that nine of the barrels in the cargo were empty, and there was a sword on the deck. No trace of the people abroad the vessel or the missing lifeboat has ever been found.
Studies of the ship clearly ruled out the possibility of a pirate attack since everything on this ship, including the barrels of alcohol it was transporting and the crew’s valuable belongings, were intact.
THE USS CYCLOPS:
One of the Navy’s largest fuel ships, the Cyclops was last seen on March 4, in 1918, when it stopped in the West Indies on its way from Brazil to Baltimore, carrying 10,800 tons of manganese ore to be used in manufacturing munitions. But the ship never made it to Baltimore, nor did any of its 300 or so passengers and crewmembers. Despite an exhaustive search effort, no trace was ever found of the ship, and Naval investigators never landed on a definite cause for its disappearance. According to various sources, the captain never sent a distress signal, nor did anyone aboard respond to radio calls by the hundreds of American ships in the vicinity.
The Navy ruled out giant octopuses and German attacks, however stories began to circulate about the captain’s eccentricities and predilection for pacing the deck with a cane and wearing only a hat and his underwear. Apparently, before they had even reached Barbados the crew had already attempted a mutiny. He was deeply disliked by his fellow officers, and, as a result of the recent mutiny attempt, had imprisoned some of the crew and had executed one of them.
The prevailing theory though is that she suffered the same fate as that of her sister ships, the Proteus and the Nereus. Both sunk while carrying loads of similar weight metallic ores and suffered structural failure due to excessive overloading.
THOMAS LYNCH JR
Thomas Lynch, Jr. and his wife disappeared while sailing to the West Indies in 1779. Lynch was a representative of South Carolina and one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.
JOSHUA SLOCUM AND THE SPRAY:
The Spray was a ship captained by Joshua Slocum, who was the first man to complete a solo sailing mission around the world. There’s no evidence that he was in the Bermuda Triangle when he disappeared while sailing from the Caribbean to Venezuela in 1909, but theorists have suggested there’s no other way he could have lost control of his boat. He was declared legally dead in 1924.
August 28, 1963 a pair of Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft collided and crashed into the Atlantic, about 300 miles west of Bermuda. Some writers at the time stated that while the aircraft did collide, that there were two distinct crash sites that were separated by over 160 miles. It wasn’t until records were unclassified years later that it was discovered that the debris field at the second so-called crash site, was really a mass of seaweed and driftwood that was tangled up with an old buoy.
The USS Pickering and USS Insurgent
The Pickering was a topsail schooner in the United States Navy, that departed from Boston on 10 June 1800. Ordered to join Commodore Thomas Truxton’s squadron on the Guadeloupe Station in the West Indies, she sailed from New Castle, Delaware on 20 August, and was never heard from again. She is presumed to have been lost with all hands in a gale in September, but this was never proven. This storm is also thought to have sunk USS Insurgent, a captured French frigate, which likewise vanished without a trace. The exact cause of the cutter’s disappearance remains a mystery, however both are listed amongst the Bermuda Triangle missing.