The Bermuda Triangle, also known as the Devil's Triangle, is a
region in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean where a number of aircraft and surface vessels allegedly disappeared
mysteriously. Popular culture has attributed these disappearances to the paranormal or activity by extraterrestrial beings.
Documented evidence indicates that a significant percentage of the incidents
were inaccurately reported or embellished by later authors, and numerous
official agencies have stated that the number and nature of disappearances in
the region is similar to that in any other area of ocean.
The boundaries of the triangle cover the Straits of Florida, the Bahamas and the entire Caribbean island area and the
Atlantic east to the Azores. The more
familiar triangular boundary in most written works has as its points somewhere
on the Atlantic coast of Miami, San Juan,
Puerto Rico; and the
mid-Atlantic island of Bermuda, with
most of the accidents concentrated along the southern boundary around the
Bahamas and the Florida Straits.
The area is one of the most heavily traveled shipping lanes in the world,
with ships crossing through it daily for ports in the Americas, Europe, and the Caribbean Islands. Cruise ships are also
plentiful, and pleasure craft regularly go back and forth between Florida and
the islands. It is also a heavily flown route for commercial and private
aircraft heading towards Florida, the Caribbean, and South America from points north.
Triangle writers have used a number of supernatural concepts to explain the
events. One explanation pins the blame on leftover technology from the mythical
lost continent of Atlantis.
Sometimes connected to the Atlantis story is the submerged rock formation known
as the Bimini Road off the
island of Bimini in the Bahamas, which
is in the Triangle by some definitions. Followers of the purported psychic Edgar Cayce take his prediction
that evidence of Atlantis would be found in 1968 as referring to the discovery
of the Bimini Road. Believers describe the formation as a road, wall, or other
structure, though geologists consider it to be of natural origin.
author of various books on anomalous phenomena, lists several theories
attributing the losses in the Triangle to anomalous or unexplained forces.
Compass problems are one of the
cited phrases in many Triangle incidents. While some have theorized that unusual
local magnetic anomalies may exist in the area, such
anomalies have not been shown to exist. Compasses have natural magnetic variations in relation to the magnetic poles, a fact
which navigators have known for centuries. Magnetic (compass)
north and geographic (true)
north are only exactly the same for a small number of places - for example,
as of 2000 in the United States only those places on a line running from Wisconsin to the Gulf of Mexico.
But the public may
not be as informed, and think there is something mysterious about a compass
"changing" across an area as large as the Triangle, which it naturally will.
Deliberate acts of destruction can fall into two categories: acts of war, and
acts of piracy. Records in enemy files have been checked for numerous losses.
While many sinkings have been attributed to surface raiders or submarines during
Wars and documented in various command log books, many others suspected as
falling in that category have not been proven. It is suspected that the loss of
USS Cyclops in 1918, as well as her sister ships Proteus and
Nereus in World War
II, were attributed to submarines, but no such link has been found in the
Piracy—the illegal capture of a craft
on the high seas—continues to this day. While piracy for cargo theft is more
common in the western Pacific and Indian oceans, drug smugglers do steal
pleasure boats for smuggling operations, and may have been involved in crew and
yacht disappearances in the Caribbean. Piracy in the Caribbean was common from
about 1560 to the 1760s, and famous pirates included Edward Teach (Blackbeard) and Jean Lafitte.
The Gulf Stream is an
ocean current that originates in the Gulf of Mexico and then flows through the Straits of
Florida into the North Atlantic. In essence, it is a river within an ocean,
and, like a river, it can and does carry floating objects. It has a surface
velocity of up to about 2.5 metres per second (5.6 mph). A small plane making a water
landing or a boat having engine trouble can be carried away from its
reported position by the current.
One of the most cited explanations in official inquiries as to the loss of
any aircraft or vessel is human error. Whether
deliberate or accidental, humans have been known to make mistakes resulting in
catastrophe, and losses within the Bermuda Triangle are no exception. For
example, the Coast Guard cited a lack of proper training for the cleaning of
volatile benzene residue as a reason
for the loss of the tanker SS V.A. Fogg in 1972. Human
stubbornness may have caused businessman Harvey Conover to lose his sailing
yacht, the Revonoc, as he sailed into the teeth of a storm south of
Florida on January 1, 1958.
powerful storms, which form in tropical waters and have historically cost
thousands of lives lost and caused billions of dollars in damage. The sinking of
de Bobadilla's Spanish fleet in 1502 was the first recorded instance of a
destructive hurricane. These storms have in the past caused a number of
incidents related to the Triangle.
An explanation for some of the disappearances has focused on the presence of
vast fields of methane hydrates (a
form of natural gas) on the continental shelves.
Laboratory experiments carried out in Australia have proven that bubbles can,
indeed, sink a scale model ship by decreasing the density of the water; any
wreckage consequently rising to the surface would be rapidly dispersed by the Gulf Stream. It has been
hypothesized that periodic methane eruptions (sometimes called "mud volcanoes") may produce regions of frothy water
that are no longer capable of providing adequate buoyancy for ships. If this were the case, such an
area forming around a ship could cause it to sink very rapidly and without
Publications by the USGS describe large stores of
undersea hydrates worldwide, including the Blake Ridge area, off the
States coast. However, according to another of their papers, no large releases of gas hydrates
are believed to have occurred in the Bermuda Triangle for the past 15,000
In various oceans around the world, rogue waves have caused ships to sink
and oil platforms
to topple. These waves, until
1995, were considered to be a mystery and/or a myth
Flight 19 was a training
flight of TBM
Avenger bombers that went missing on December 5, 1945 while over the
Atlantic. The squadron's flight path was scheduled to take them due east for 120
miles, north for 73 miles, and then back over a final 120-mile leg that would
return them to the naval base, but they never returned. The impression is
given that the
flight encountered unusual phenomena and anomalous compass readings, and that
the flight took place on a calm day under the supervision of an experienced
pilot, Lt. Charles Carroll Taylor. Adding to the intrigue is that the Navy's
report of the accident was ascribed to "causes or reasons unknown."
Adding to the mystery, a search and rescue Mariner aircraft with
a 13-man crew was dispatched to aid the missing squadron, but the Mariner itself
was never heard from again. Later, there was a report from a tanker cruising off
the coast of Florida of a visible explosion at about the time the Mariner would have been on patrol.
While the basic facts of this version of the story are essentially accurate,
some important details are missing. The weather was becoming stormy by the end
of the incident, and naval reports and written recordings of the conversations
between Taylor and the other pilots of Flight 19 do not indicate magnetic
The mysterious abandonment in 1872 of the 282-ton brigantine Mary Celeste is often but inaccurately
connected to the Triangle, the ship having been abandoned off the coast of Portugal. The event is possibly
confused with the loss of a ship with a similar name, the Mari Celeste, a
207-ton paddle steamer
that hit a reef and quickly sank off the
coast of Bermuda on September 13, 1864. Kusche
noted that many of the "facts" about this incident were actually about the
Marie Celeste, the fictional ship from Arthur Conan Doyle's short story "J. Habakuk Jephson's
Statement" (based on the real Mary Celeste incident, but
The Ellen Austin supposedly came across a derelict ship, placed on
board a prize crew, and attempted to sail with it to New York in 1881. According
to the stories, the derelict disappeared; others elaborating further that the
derelict reappeared minus the prize crew, then disappeared again with a second
prize crew on board. A check from Lloyd's of London records proved the
existence of the Meta, built in 1854 and that in 1880 the Meta was
renamed Ellen Austin. There are no casualty listings for this vessel, or
any vessel at that time, that would suggest a large number of missing men were
placed on board a derelict that later disappeared.
The incident resulting in the single largest loss of life in the history of
the US Navy not related to combat occurred when USS Cyclops, under the command of Lt Cdr G.W.
Worley, went missing without a trace with a crew of 309 sometime after March
4, 1918, after departing the island of Barbados. Although there is no strong evidence for any
single theory, many independent theories exist, some blaming storms, some
capsizing, and some suggesting that wartime enemy activity was to blame for the
Burr Alston was the daughter of former United States Vice
President Aaron Burr. Her
disappearance has been cited at least once in relation to the Triangle. She
was a passenger on board the Patriot, which sailed from Charleston, South Carolina to New
York City on December 30, 1812, and was never heard from again. The planned
route is well outside all but the most extended versions of the Bermuda
Triangle. Both piracy and the War of 1812 have been posited as explanations, as
well as a theory placing her in Texas, well outside the Triangle.
Spray was a derelict fishing boat refitted as an ocean cruiser by
Joshua Slocum and used
by him to complete the first ever single-handed circumnavigation of the world,
between 1895 and 1898.
In 1909, Slocum set sail from Vineyard Haven bound for Venezuela. Neither he
nor Spray were ever seen again. There is no evidence they were in the Bermuda Triangle when they disappeared,
nor is there any evidence of paranormal activity. The boat was considered in
poor condition and a hard boat to handle that Slocum's skill usually
A five-masted schooner built in 1919, the Carroll A. Deering was found hard
aground and abandoned at Diamond Shoals, near Cape Hatteras, North Carolina on January 31, 1921. Rumors and
more at the time indicated the Deering was a victim of piracy, possibly
connected with the illegal rum-running trade during Prohibition, and possibly involving another ship,
S.S. Hewitt, which disappeared at roughly the same time. Just hours
later, an unknown steamer sailed near the lightship along the track of the
Deering, and ignored all signals from the lightship. It is speculated
that the Hewitt may have been this mystery ship, and possibly involved in
the Deering crew's disappearance.
On December 28, 1948, a Douglas DC-3 aircraft, number NC16002,
disappeared while on a flight from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Miami. No trace of
the aircraft or the 32 people onboard was ever found. From the documentation
compiled by the Civil Aeronautics Board investigation, a possible key to the
plane's disappearance was found, but barely touched upon by the Triangle
writers: the plane's batteries were inspected and found to be low on charge, but
ordered back into the plane without a recharge by the pilot while in San Juan.
Whether or not this led to complete electrical failure will never be known.
However, since piston-engined aircraft rely upon magnetos to
provide spark to their cylinders rather than a battery powered ignition coil system, this
theory is not strongly convincing.
Star Tiger disappeared on January 30, 1948 on a flight from the
Azores to Bermuda; G-AGRE Star Ariel disappeared on
January 17, 1949, on a flight from Bermuda to Kingston, Jamaica. Both were Avro Tudor IV passenger aircraft operated by British South American
Airways. Both planes were operating at the very limits of their range and the slightest
error or fault in the equipment could keep them from reaching the small island.
One plane was not heard from long before it would have entered the Triangle.
On August 28, 1963 a pair of US Air Force KC-135
Stratotanker aircraft collided and crashed into the Atlantic. The Triangle
version (Winer, Berlitz, Gaddis) of
this story specifies that they did collide and crash, but there were two
distinct crash sites, separated by over 160 miles (260 km) of water. However,
Kusche's research showed that the unclassified version of the Air Force investigation report
stated that the debris field defining the second "crash site" was examined by a
search and rescue ship, and found to be a mass of seaweed and driftwood tangled in an old buoy.
Marine Sulphur Queen, a T2
tanker converted from oil to sulfur
carrier, was last heard from on February 4, 1963 with a crew of 39 near the
Florida Keys. Marine Sulphur Queen was the first vessel mentioned in
Vincent Gaddis' 1964 Argosy Magazine article, but he
left it as having "sailed into the unknown", despite the Coast Guard report,
which not only documented the ship's badly-maintained history, but declared that
it was an unseaworthy vessel that should never have gone to sea.
One of the more famous incidents in the Triangle took place in 1921 (some say
a few years later), when the Japanese vessel Raifuku Maru (sometimes misidentified as
Raikuke Maru) went down with all hands after sending a distress signal
that allegedly said "Danger like dagger now. Come quick!", or "It's like a
dagger, come quick!" This has led writers to speculate on what the "dagger" was,
with a waterspout being the
likely candidate (Winer). In reality the ship was nowhere near the Triangle, nor
was the word "dagger" a part of the ship's distress call ("Now very danger. Come
quick."). Having left Boston for Hamburg, Germany, on April 21, 1925, she was
caught in a severe storm and sank in the North Atlantic with all hands while
another ship, RMS Homeric, attempted an unsuccessful
A pleasure yacht was found adrift in the Atlantic south of Bermuda on
September 26, 1955; it is usually stated in the stories (Berlitz, Winer) that
the crew vanished while the yacht survived being at sea during three hurricanes.
The 1955 Atlantic hurricane season
lists only one storm coming near Bermuda towards the end of August, hurricane
"Edith"; of the others, "Flora" was too far to the east, and "Katie" arrived
after the yacht was recovered. It was confirmed that the Connemara IV was
empty and in port when "Edith" may have caused the yacht to slip her moorings
and drift out to sea.
A Cessna piloted by Carolyn Cascio, on June 6, 1969, with one
passenger, attempted to travel from Nassau, Bahamas to Cockburn, Grand Turk Island. The plane was
witnessed by many air traffic controllers in Cockburn's airport to circle the
island for 30 minutes, after which, it flew away apparently for another island.
All attempts from the ground to raise Cascio on the radio failed.