The Bermuda Triangle (a.k.a. The Devil's Triangle) is a region of ocean located in the Atlantic famous for hundreds of mysterious plane and ship disappearances. The three main points that comprise the Triangle's boundaries are Miami, FL., San Juan, Puerto Rico, and the island of Bermuda. The size of the Triangle itself is roughly 500,000 square miles.
The first historical record concerning the Triangle dates back to September 15, 1492, to none other than Christopher Columbus who witnessed and later wrote in his ship's log "a remarkable bolt of fire fall into the sea."
Although it is uncertain (as well as unlikely) that the exact number of disappearances will ever be known, several high profile cases stand out that have served to propagate the mystery and lore of the Triangle:
The most famous disappearance on record is that of Flight 19; a U.S. Navy squadron of five aircraft that mysteriously vanished on December 5, 1945, while performing a routine bombing practice mission. The squadron departed from the U.S. Naval Air Station in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. around 2:10p.m. Around 4p.m. a radio message was intercepted which indicated that the Flight was lost and/or experiencing equipment malfunctions, such as faulty compass readings as well as general disorientation by the pilots. Attempts to contact the distressed squadron were unsuccessful due to atmospheric conditions, static and interference from Cuban radio broadcasts. Unfortunately, contact was lost before the problem could be identified of what they were experiencing. The flight was never heard or seen again, and no debris was ever found of a crash. Furthermore, the PBM patrol plane that was sent out to find the missing squadron also disappeared. However, the PBM might have suffered a more tragic fate as it was believed to have exploded for an unknown reason. This is due to a merchant ship's records that reported passing through an oil slick and who also recorded seeing a "burst of flame" as from an explosion at around the coordinates that the PBM was thought to have been.
Another famous Navy disappearance concerns the U.S.S. Cyclops. It's puzzling that it isn't more well known than Flight 19 as it was the single largest loss of life experienced by the Navy unrelated to combat operations. On March 18, 1918, the U.S.S. Cyclops went missing after it departed from the port of Barbados. All 306 of its crew and passengers were never seen again, and so far there has been absolutely no compelling evidence to explain exactly why or how this ship disappeared.
The Star Tiger and Star Ariel are two perplexing cases that remain unsolved as well. On January 30, 1948, the Star Tiger was lost en route from the Azores to Bermuda. The Star Ariel was lost January 17, 1949, en route from Bermuda to Kingston, Jamaica. Both were passenger craft, both were flying in calm weather and in neither instance did the crafts issue any sort of distress call; they simply vanished. Later on the Civil Air Ministry issued a statement concerning the loss of the Tiger:
"In closing this report it may truly be said that no more baffling problem has ever been presented for investigation. In the complete absence of any reliable evidence as to either the nature or the cause of the accident of Star Tiger, the Court has not been able to do more than suggest possibilities, none of which reaches the level even of probability. Into all activities which involve the co-operation of man and machine two elements enter of a very diverse character. There is an incalculable element of the human equation dependent upon imperfectly known factors; and there is the mechanical element subject to quite different laws. A breakdown may occur in either separately or in both in conjunction. Or some external cause may overwhelm both man and machine. What happened in this case will never be known and the fate of Star Tiger must remain an unsolved mystery."
All sorts of theories abound to explain what exactly is going on in this part of the ocean. Everything from the truly fantastic to the truly mundane has been put forth in order to make sense of what phenomenon, if any, is occurring. Some of the logical explanations are as follows:
- Human error - The is the most common reason attributed to loss either by ship or aircraft. Human error, either deliberate or unintentional, is thought to play the biggest factor in ships or aircraft "disappearing." This can be in many forms such as improper training or insufficient experience or simply just bad judgment.
- Methane hydrates - It has been proposed by some scientists that from time to time vents in the ocean floor may leak out methane gas. The gas travels up toward the surface and, if large enough, can create a "pocket" or "hole" which displaces the surrounding water and if any passing ship happens to get caught in this pocket the vessel would lose its buoyancy and sink very, very quickly. Much like when an aircraft experiences certain "air pockets" which cause it to dramatically drop in elevation suddenly, the same effect might be happening in the ocean to ships. It has even been proposed that this same escaping methane can travel up through the air and cause the same effect against any aircraft flying above as well.
- Hurricanes - Powerful tropical storms that can easily sink unwary ships or foolish planes.
- Rogue waves - This very real and naturally occurring phenomenon was thought by scientists to be legend or myth up until 1995. These enormous waves strike without warning and have been known to take out ships and even oil platforms. They are not the same as tsunamis as tsunamis pose no risk whatsoever to ships at sea, but only until they reach a coastline. Rogue waves are a "spatially and temporally localized event" that occurs far out at sea.
- Piracy - Another common explanation is piracy, especially concerning ships or boats that have been found adrift and seemingly abandoned.
- U.F.O.s - Probably the most common for the fringe theories regarding disappearances in the Triangle. Steven Spielberg alluded to this theory as well in his 1977 sci-fi classic film Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which showed aliens returning the missing Flight 19 crew back to Earth at the end of the movie.
- Portals/Vortices - Some people think that the Triangle is actually a portal or vortex to another dimension or even universe. What exactly triggers the portal to take effect is not certain, but many attribute the sudden disappearances to the portal opening and ships or aircraft traveling back through time which accounts for never being able to find any trace of said vessel or craft.
- Sea monsters - Ever since Man has embarked on the oceans there have been wild tales of fantastical creatures responsible for ships disappearing. Many sailors are superstitious to begin with, and they pay attention to the slightest sign which they may interpret as a portent of things to come. Even though it's a good bet that giant sea creatures don't exist the theory nevertheless persists.
- Secret technology from Atlantis - It is believed that Atlantis was once located in this region of ocean before suffering a catastrophe which literally wiped the ancient civilization off the map. It is also believed that the Atlanteans were a highly advanced race with technology far surpassing our modern-day technology. It is this long vanished technology many Atlantis proponents believe still exists somewhere hidden beneath the ocean, and which becomes activated every now and then with devastating consequences causing ships and planes to disappear without a trace.