The Bermuda Triangle is a place where conspiracy theorists and skeptics alike enter at their own peril. Hundreds of ships and airplanes have vanished over the years without a trace. We don’t know why.
Nautical legends speak of interdimensional portals, UFOs, and aliens; science speaks of extraordinary weather phenomena; skeptics speak of our tendency to fabricate stories. Are we convinced?
With all of our modern technology, may we conclude once and for all the truth behind the triangle? How much of it is fact, and how much is fiction? What does science have to say?
The Notorious Bermuda Triangle
Bermuda is an island surrounded by shipwrecks, settled by marooned survivors centuries ago. The perilous reefs surrounding the volcanic island are both shallow and devastating to vessels, wooden or metal.
The area loosely defined by the bounds joining Bermuda, Puerto Rico, and Miami constitutes the triangle, where many a mysterious disappearance has been recorded over a century.
The most famous ship ever to vanish into the triangle is the USS Cyclops, the largest ship in the U.S. Navy in its day, which supplied fuel for the American fleet in WWI. Those who have studied the vessel have pointed out its main weakness: it was a flat-bottomed vessel and, thus, was prone to tipping. Carrying heavy cargo, the ship mysteriously vanished with 309 crew on board while voyaging from Barbados to Baltimore in 1918.
Adding to the mystery, the Cyclops’s two sister ships also disappeared on the same route in 1941.
The legend of the triangle deepened in 1945 when five US TBM Avenger aircraft, known as Flight 19, vanished without a trace over the vicinity of the triangle. Furthermore, the Martin Mariner plane sent out to search for Flight 19 also vanished. No survivors were found, nor was any wreckage ever recovered.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of the documented disappearances over the years. At least 1,000 people have gone missing; hundreds of ships and aircraft have vanished; often, routine radio communications with no alerts mentioned (and even fair weather) are the last contact that is ever made.
Science Explains The Mystery?
Some of the theories proposed to explain these mysteries include rogue waves, methane gases rising from the ocean bed, and air bombs or “microbursts” that can crash planes and sink ships.
The storm-prone triangle, where there are sometimes multiple stormfronts at once, may see converging waves that amplify in size, causing rogue waves that appear out of nowhere. Nautical legends describe terrifying waves in excess of 100 feet. Tests done using wave simulators with a model of the USS Cyclops have proven that a wave over 50 feet high could capsize and sink it.
Satellite imagery has in recent years discovered hexagonal or “honeycomb”-shaped clouds in the vicinity of the triangle. Using new imaging technology, these shapes were determined to be signatures of highly focused downward blasts of air, called “microbursts” or “air bombs.” Such blasts can reach 170 mph and may easily send both aircraft and ships into a watery grave.
Another theory involves methane hydrates (accumulations of decomposing organic material) on the ocean floor. A disturbance could cause methane hydrate to rise and turn into gas. Described as “burps of death,” such gas could, theoretically, affect the buoyancy of ships, causing them to sink, or even interfere with airplane engines.
Adding to the list of hazards put forth are extreme weather and electric fog; some have claimed that compasses point to true north instead of magnetic north due to magnetic disturbances in the triangle; even Columbus noted compass malfunctions in his day.
Skeptics and Conspiracy Theories
More outlandish claims include theories of extra-dimensional portals, gravitational or magnetic anomalies, the ghosts of jettisoned slaves sinking ships, and (of course) alien abductions. UFO sightings have also been reported.
All the while, skeptics explain away the whole mystery by denying it’s a mystery at all. They cite that the region is one of the busiest-traveled parts of the world; the number of ships lost at sea are the same as anywhere else per capita. End of story.
Truth be told, the answer may lie somewhere in the middle of all these theories—they are just theories. A satisfactory answer to satisfy the majority has yet to be had. As for aliens … until the day when all is known—be you scientist, skeptic, or conspiracy theorist—all ideas should remain on the table.