The Truth About the Bermuda Triangle

bermuda-triangle

The Bermuda Triangle is a large area of ocean between Florida, Puerto Rico, and Bermuda. Over the last few centuries, it’s thought that dozens of ships and planes have disappeared under mysterious circumstances in the area, earning it the nickname “The Devil’s Triangle.” People have even gone so far as to speculate that it’s an area of extra-terrestrial activity or that there is some bizarre natural scientific cause for the region to be hazardous; but most likely, it’s simply an area in which people have experienced a lot of bad luck—the idea of it being a “vortex of doom” is no more real than Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster (see The Origin of the Bigfoot Legend and The Origin of the Loch Ness Monster).

The Bermuda Triangle’s bad reputation started with Christopher Columbus. According to his log, on October 8, 1492, Columbus looked down at his compass and noticed that it was giving weird readings. He didn’t alert his crew at first, because having a compass that didn’t point to magnetic north may have sent the already on edge crew into a panic. This was probably a good decision considering three days later when Columbus simply spotted a strange light, the crew threatened to return to Spain.

This and other reported compass issues in the region gave rise to the myth that compasses will all be off in the Triangle, which isn’t correct, or at least is an exaggeration of what is actually happening as you’ll see.  Despite this, in 1970 the U.S. Coast Guard, attempting to explain the reasons for disappearances in the Triangle, stated:

First, the “Devil’s 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.

Of course, despite this now being repeated as an explanation for disappearances in the Triangle on numerous documentaries and articles since then, it turns out magnetic variation is something ship captains (and other explorers) have known about and had to deal with pretty much as long as there have been ships and compasses. Dealing with magnetic declination is really just “Navigation by Compass” 101 and nothing to be concerned about, nor anything that would seriously throw off any experienced navigator.

In 2005, the Coast Guard revisited the issue after a TV producer in London inquired about it for a program he was working on.  In this case, they correctly changed their tune about the magnetic field bit stating,

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 modern Bermuda Triangle legend didn’t get started until 1950 when an article written by Edward Van Winkle Jones was published by the Associated Press. Jones reported several incidences of disappearing ships and planes in the Bermuda Triangle, including five US Navy torpedo bombers that vanished on December 5, 1945, and the commercial airliners “Star Tiger” and “Star Ariel” which disappeared on January 30, 1948 and January 17, 1949 respectively. All told, about 135 individuals were unaccounted for, and they all went missing around the Bermuda Triangle. As Jones said, “they were swallowed without a trace.”

It was a 1955 book, The Case for the UFO, by M. K. Jessup that started pointing fingers at alien life forms. After all, no bodies or wreckage had yet been discovered. By 1964, Vincent H. Gaddis—who coined the term “Bermuda Triangle”—wrote an article saying over 1000 lives had been claimed by the area. He also agreed that it was a “pattern of strange events.” The Bermuda Triangle obsession hit its peak in the early 1970s with the publication of several paperback books about the topic, including the bestseller by Charles Berlitz, The Bermuda Triangle.

However, critic Larry Kusche, who published The Bermuda Triangle Mystery: Solved in 1975, argued that other authors had exaggerated their numbers and hadn’t done any proper research. They presented some disappearance cases as “mysteries” when they weren’t mysteries at all, and some reported cases hadn’t even happened within the Bermuda Triangle.

After extensively researching the issue, Kusche concluded that the number of disappearances that occurred within the Bermuda Triangle wasn’t actually greater than in any other similarly trafficked area of the ocean, and that other writers presented misinformation—such as not reporting storms that occurred on the same day as disappearances, and sometimes even making it seem as though the conditions had been calm for the purposes of creating a sensational story. In short: previous Bermuda Triangle authors didn’t do their research and either knowingly or unintentionally “made it up.”

The book did such a thorough job of debunking the myth that it effectively ended most of the Bermuda Triangle hype. When authors like Berlitz and others were unable to refute Kusche’s findings, even the most steadfast of believers had difficulty remaining confident in the sensationalized Bermuda Triangle narrative. Nevertheless, many magazine articles, TV shows, and movies have continued to feature the Bermuda Triangle.

Because the number of disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle is no greater than any other similarly trafficked area of the world’s oceans, they don’t really need an explanation. But if you’re still convinced that the Triangle is a ship graveyard, relative to other regions that get around the same number of travelers, here are some natural explanations from the Coast Guard to combat some of the “alien” and other fantastical theories.

The majority of disappearances can be attributed to the area’s unique features. The Gulf Stream, a warm ocean current flowing from the Gulf of Mexico around the Florida Straits northeastward toward Europe, is extremely swift and turbulent. It can quickly erase any evidence of a disaster.

The unpredictable Caribbean-Atlantic storms that give birth to waves of great size as well as waterspouts often spell disaster for pilots and mariners. (Not to mention that the area is in “hurricane alley.”) The topography of the ocean floor varies from extensive shoals to some of the deepest marine trenches in the world. With the interaction of strong currents over reefs, the topography is in a constant state of flux and breeds development of new navigational hazards.

Not to be underestimated is the human factor. A large number of pleasure boats travel the water between Florida’s Gold Coast (the most densely populated area in the world) and the Bahamas. All to often, crossings are attempted with too small a boat, insufficient knowledge of the area’s hazards and lack of good seamanship.

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Bonus Facts:

  • Whatever the rumours might have you believe, insurance companies don’t actually charge higher premiums for shipping in the Bermuda Triangle.
  • Another mysterious “triangle” is the Michigan Triangle—an area stretching between Michigan and Wisconsin over the centre of Lake Michigan where disappearances have occurred. One disappearance was Captain George R. Donner who supposedly simply vanished from his cabin on the O.S. McFarland as it carted coal to Wisconsin. On April 28, 1937, his second mate went to tell him they were approaching port, but no one could find him anywhere aboard the ship. In another instance, a plane was flying above the triangle and *apparently* just disappeared. Small amounts of debris were found floating in the water, but the rest of the wreckage and bodies of passengers weren’t found. If you guessed that little credence is given to this triangle being an area of unusual activity for similar reasons as the Bermuda Triangle misrepresentations, you’d be correct.
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48 comments

  • “Florida’s Gold Coast (the most densely populated area in the world)” Really? Ever heard of Singapore or Hong Kong?

    • Daven Hiskey

      @skeptic: I assume the Coast Guard representative meant it’s “one of” the most densely populated and just left those two words out in the interview, or maybe that they were saying that the area is the most densely populated by pleasure boats or ship traffic in the world, which I’d be skeptical of the latter there, but might buy the pleasure boat theory. Not sure on that one. 🙂

    • Yes, Hong Kong is in China Singapore next to Indonesia.

    • I live in Singapore,i have a relative in Hong Kong…….. 🙂

  • Dr Irving Languid, past director of the G.E. research labs in Schenectady, N.Y. had a convincing explanation of the missing torpedo bombers ( and other w.w. ii planes. During the war he was at Woods Hole lab on Cape Cod. Naval pilot’s wives talked about strange disappearances on night flights from Massachusetts towards Bermuda. Langmuir sought and got a conference with the Naval base commander who told him that planes were lost while practicing low altitude (~ 300 ft) night penetration manoeuvres, using navigational beacons set up in Bermuda. Langmuir told him of the danger of such flights because of the late autumn atmospheric “roll cells” that would disturb the plane’s trim and push the plane into the sea too quickly to permit the pilot to corn the trim. Using Langmuir’s advice to tack back and forth along their course, they lost no more planes or pilots. This story was given in a meteorological lecture by Langmuir’s assistant, Vince Shafer that I attended.

  • The name or term “Bermuda Triangle” or “Devil’s Triangle” was made up by greedy self-proclaimed authors disguising themselves as so-called “experts” by manipulating information to give the appearance of “unexplainable mysterys” surrounding the unfortunate tragedy associated with very much explainable accidents involving marine and aircraft in a certian area of the atlantic ocean. It’s easy. Boats sink and planes crash. The ocean has a reputation of hiding these accidents extremely well. I think it has to do with being an ocean. A very deep ocean.

    • I was watching a show one time that was doing a story on the triangle and they mentioned that there are other triangles directly along the same line above the equator. Not sure how many they said there was but they did say there is another one or 2 that show missing ships, plains…

  • If you liked Kusche’s book, hunt down a copy f my 1984 book THE EVIDENCE FOR THE BERMUDA TRIANGLE which, despite the title (it was part of a series) finds explanation for almost all of the 200+ disappearances attributed to the Triangle.

  • Monica Escalante

    I am doing a research about the Bermuda Triangle and I went on 6 different websited and it says his log was dated October, 11, 1492 not October, 8, 1492 like you said 😉

  • I spent 2 years on search and rescue aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Aurora WPC103.IT WAS A VERY INTERESTING 2 years. 1965 thru 1969.

  • It’s probably just bad luck, but i do have to say with all the disappearing aircrafts and boats its hard to say that bad luck is the problem. My theory is that storms go into the triangle and strong winds keep them from leaving so the boats and planes get destroyed from them

  • Rip in the Space time Continuum

    Even less probable than alien adbuctions, but then, how much do we fully understand about Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity? He theorised that space and time combine to form one entity, and that everything in the Universe sits on this space-time, which, in effect, acts and reacts like a fabric suspended at the ends. A very massive object like the Sun rests on and indents this fabric more deeply than a less massive object like Earth. Black holes are just that, holes in the fabric of space-time. What’s on the other side? Today’s mathematics hit a brick wall at that point. No one knows.

    A rip in the space-time continuum is not necessarily a black hole. Many are called Einstein-Rosen Bridges, or more popularly, wormholes. The shortest distance between two points is, in this case, not a straight line, but zero. The wormhole effectively teleports anything that enters it from Point A to B instantly, regardless of the distance, and Points A and B are not necessarily different physical locations, but could be the same location in different time periods. So you can travel from Earth to some planet in the Upsilon Andromedae star system instantly, rather than spending 44 years traveling at the speed of light. According to General Relativity, superluminal (faster than light) travel is impossible unless the laws of physics are first discarded. It also theorises that the laws of physics cease to exist inside a wormhole.

    Because a full mathematical description of wormholes has not yet been formulated, it is, at least for now, possible (just not feasible) that a wormhole exists in the Triangle, though not at all times, that this wormhole instantly transports anything entering it to another location in the Universe, or to another time in the same location. Possible credence for this theory centers on Carolyn Cascio, who was mentioned in detail on another list.

    In brief, she was a veteran pilot who chartered vacations in the Bahamas. On 7 June 1964, she flew from Nassau for Grand Turk Island, the largest of the Turks Islands, and densely populated. It has lots of houses, condos, hotel resorts, an airport, and many other signs that it is inhabited, but when Cascio reached Grand Turk, she radioed ahead that she thought she was lost. She stated that the island was the same shape and size of Grand Turk, but was utterly bereft of any sign of human habitation. It had nothing but woods and beaches on it.

    Her radio transmissions were received by Grand Turk airport, which radioed back that she was at the right island, and could land anytime, but she didn’t. She radioed that she could not find the airport, even though she was flying directly over it. She circled it over a dozen times, being radioed frantically from the tower, but never responded. Her transmissions indicated that her radio was not receiving, though the airport received hers, and though in full view of it for 30 minutes, she finally flew off back the way she had come, and neither she, nor her passenger, nor her plane was ever seen again. The above story is true.

    The mathematical theories involved with how wormholes work are not yet fully described, so until the possibility of a wormhole in the Bermuda Triangle is proven or disproven, it must be construed as possible for Cascio to have entered one at Point A sometime during her trip to Grand Turk and exited at the same location in a time, Point B, before humans had inhabited Grand Turk. She was, then, unable to fly back through the same rip in the space-time continuum.

    • If Carolyn Casio did go through a rip in the continuum and landed before the Grand Turk Island was inhabited, and supposing she successfully returned to Nassau, then she would tell the story to others of that time. And if the time isn’t before her life, she would see herself from the past, and then there’d also be the grandfather paradox. Right? o.O

      But then, that is when assuming that that time leads to this time, which may not be true. It may as well be a parallel universe where things happen differently and nobody did inhabit Grand Turk, or even Nassau. Maybe humans don’t exist there.

    • You have to be a physics professor. That is far more difficult to understand than the “Twins Theory”.

  • kind of solution can be done with it as due to magnetic interference there can be navigation problem .! right ? so why dont you make a sort of ship as old times which works manually ! connected through other research centers through cable lines covered by such tube coatings which dont allow magnetic field to bring change in it . now keep that ship in ‘bermuda triangle’ in a way that its location can be accessed easily or i can say fix stood at one place for some time interval all the sea activities going on will reach research centers through cable lines . And ship should be attached with strong rope so that it can be pulled out any time .

    • It’s not the ship itself necessarily affected by the magnetic fields, it’s the compass showing the directions that is affected.

  • some what like attached to string , ship attached strongly by another ship. when kite falls by the string its location can be accessed , same when ship gets disturbance try to pull it if not it can be found by following that strong rope !

  • is this possible that this place is deepest place of earth then inner core is direct contact with them so there are more gravity force as compare to other places because there are no cover of other layers so that it can not less that gravitational force and attract that aeroplanes and ships which is not same as other place like normal place where we live

    • Gravitational force does not comes from the core.It is just the force of attraction between two bodies.Even two stones lying in the ground has gravitational force between them.

  • N.Y. had a convincing explanation of the missing torpedo bombers ( and other w.w. ii planes. During the war he was at Woods Hole lab on Cape Cod. Naval pilot’s wives talked about strange disappearances on night flights from Massachusetts towards Bermuda. Langmuir sought and got a conference with the Naval base commander who told him that planes were lost while practicing low altitude (~ 300 ft) night penetration manoeuvres, using navigational beacons set up in Bermuda. Langmuir told him of the danger of such flights because of the late autumn atmospheric “roll cells” that would disturb the plane’s trim and push the plane into the sea too quickly to permit the pilot to corn the trim. Using Langmuir’s advice to tack back and forth along their course, they lost no more planes or pilots. This story was given in a meteorological lecture by Langmuir’s assistant, Vince Shafer that I attended.

    Even less probable than alien adbuctions, but then, how much do we fully understand about Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity? He theorised that space and time combine to form one entity, and that everything in the Universe sits on this space-time, which, in effect, acts and reacts like a fabric suspended at the ends. A very massive object like the Sun rests on and indents this fabric more deeply than a less massive object like Earth. Black holes are just that, holes in the fabric of space-time. What’s on the other side? Today’s mathematics hit a brick wall at that point. No one knows.

    A rip in the space-time continuum is not necessarily a black hole. Many are called Einstein-Rosen Bridges, or more popularly, wormholes. The shortest distance between two points is, in this case, not a straight line, but zero. The wormhole effectively teleports anything that enters it from Point A to B instantly, regardless of the distance, and Points A and B are not necessarily different physical locations, but could be the same location in different time periods. So you can travel from Earth to some planet in the Upsilon Andromedae star system instantly, rather than spending 44 years traveling at the speed of light. According to General Relativity, superluminal (faster than light) travel is impossible unless the laws of physics are first discarded. It also theorises that the laws of physics cease to exist inside a wormhole.

    Because a full mathematical description of wormholes has not yet been formulated, it is, at least for now, possible (just not feasible) that a wormhole exists in the Triangle, though not at all times, that this wormhole instantly transports anything entering it to another location in the Universe, or to another time in the same location. Possible credence for this theory centers on Carolyn Cascio, who was mentioned in detail on another list.

    In brief, she was a veteran pilot who chartered vacations in the Bahamas. On 7 June 1964, she flew from Nassau for Grand Turk Island, the largest of the Turks Islands, and densely populated. It has lots of houses, condos, hotel resorts, an airport, and many other signs that it is inhabited, but when Cascio reached Grand Turk, she radioed ahead that she thought she was lost. She stated that the island was the same shape and size of Grand Turk, but was utterly bereft of any sign of human habitation. It had nothing but woods and beaches on it.

    Her radio transmissions were received by Grand Turk airport, which radioed back that she was at the right island, and could land anytime, but she didn’t. She radioed that she could not find the airport, even though she was flying directly over it. She circled it over a dozen times, being radioed frantically from the tower, but never responded. Her transmissions indicated that her radio was not receiving, though the airport received hers, and though in full view of it for 30 minutes, she finally flew off back the way she had come, and neither she, nor her passenger, nor her plane was ever seen again. The above story is true.

    The mathematical theories involved with how wormholes work are not yet fully described, so until the possibility of a wormhole in the Bermuda Triangle is proven or disproven, it must be construed as possible for Cascio to have entered one at Point A sometime during her trip to Grand Turk and exited at the same location in a time, Point B, before humans had inhabited Grand Turk. She was, then, unable to fly back through the same rip in the space-time continuu

    Reply

  • Well there is another such place in the world. It is called the ‘Lake Michigan Triangle’

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  • There’s another ‘Triangle’ area that exists besides the ‘Bermuda’ & ‘Lake Michigan;’ it’s off the coast of Japan. There’s been many ‘disappearances’ of ships & planes in this region, dating back to ancient times. It’s not mentioned as much as the other 2 in this area of the world, but it may be responsible for more disappearances than the other 2 combined-

  • On the exact other side of the world is where flight 370 disappeared. Just sayin.

  • What about the story of thousands of black slaves dumped there by their slave masters after Lincoln announced the abolishment of the 200 years old slave trade.? And is it not likely that Bermuda and it’s enclaves are being hunted by the ghost of those slaves? Where is the truth?

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