Like the statues on Easter Island, the curse of the mummy in Egypt, UFOs, and the Loch Ness Monster, the Bermuda Triangle has become a fascinating and enduring legend. What exactly takes place in the mysterious zone known also as the Devil's Triangle, which spans Miami, Bermuda, and San Juan, Puerto Rico, to cause the death and disappearance of dozens or more ships, planes, and their crews? Apparently, large numbers of ships, aircraft, and people have suddenly and inexplicably disappeared in this nebulous zone. The prevalence of inexplicable phenomena, and the types of experiences survivors of the Bermuda Triangle have had, had led to a number of theories postulating why these events take place. Many of those theories are based in empirical science, including geophysics. Other theories are based in paranormal and parapsychological paradigms, which are far more captivating. These paranormal explanations have fueled a litany of books, films, documentaries, and websites dedicated to probing the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle.
As the documentary Bermuda Triangle: The True Story points out "popular culture has attributed these disappearances to the paranormal or activity by extraterrestrial beings." The paranormal explanations of the Bermuda Triangle phenomenon are romantic; but are they true? A new book released by Paragon Publishing suggests that the entire premise upon which the Bermuda Triangle legend was created has just fallen apart. In Discovery of Flight 19: A 30-Year Search for the Lost Patrol in the Bermuda Triangle, author Jon Myhre details the disappearance of five U.S. Avenger torpedo bombers, collectively known as Flight 19. These five bombers were "to fly with 14 men in a triangular course at an altitude of 1000 feet," dropping bombs along the way as part of a World War Two-era training exercise (Kelly 1). Four hours after the fighter pilots left Fort Lauderdale, they inexplicably disappeared, seemingly to have vanished into thin air. The disappearances were captivating, both for the military and the general public.
An entire myth swelled up and surrounded the incident. "As early as 1952, George X. Sands, in a report in Fate magazine, noted what seemed like an unusually large number of strange accidents in that region," ("The 'Mystery' of the Bermuda Triangle" 1). In 1964, Vincent H. Gaddis first used the term "Bermuda Triangle" in an Argosy magazine article ("The 'Mystery' of the Bermuda Triangle"). The tantalizing term "Devil's Triangle" was used first by John Wallace Spencer in his book about the subject, Limbo of the Lost. Spencer would later produce a documentary on the Bermuda Triangle, further anchoring the mystery into public consciousness. The Bermuda Triangle has been dubbed the "graveyard of the Atlantic," "the Trapezium of the Damned," and the "Sea of the Lost of Lost Souls," (Hamilton 4; Imbroglio 137). Reports of odd, paranormal, and deadly activity have ranged from a sea monster to UFOs.
Yet recently new evidence has emerged that undermines the very core of that precious cultural myth. Three of the Flight 19 crash sites have already been located. One of the aircraft in Flight 19 has been raised from the sea (Kelly 1). What's more, "the irony of Flight 19 is that none of the men died within the infamous Bermuda Triangle," (Kelly 1). Likewise, one of the first documented ships connected with the Bermuda Triangle area was the U.S.S. Cyclops. The U.S.S. Cyclops sank, or at least disappeared, in 1918. No wreck was located, and distress signal was never heard ("The 'Mystery' of the Bermuda Triangle"). In fact, "the deaths of the 306 crew and passengers of the U.S.S. Cyclops remains the single largest loss of life in U.S. Naval history not directly involving combat," ("The 'Mystery' of the Bermuda Triangle").
Like Flight 19, though, the U.S.S. Cyclops might not have sunk in the Bermuda Triangle at all, as the ship was en route to Baltimore. Before the discovery of the Flight 19 wrecks, the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle haunted investigators passionate about naval history and the paranormal. There have been a host of explanations offered to explain for the scores of planes and ships that went missing between 1945, when Flight 19 went down, and now.
The zone stretching the Atlantic waters between Bermuda, Florida, and Puerto Rico spans a total of 500,000 square miles (Obringer 1). The region offers ample opportunity for plane and shipwrecks, partly because of the strength of the Gulf Stream in that area (Rosenberg 1). In fact, many researchers now believe 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," (Bermuda Triangle: The True Story).
Such assertions take all the fun out of studying the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle, which remains as alive and well as the Loch Ness monster and Bigfoot. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the explanations that have been given over the years for the Bermuda Triangle disappearances include malicious extraterrestrial activity; vortices of energy that "suck" objects and people; and "the influence of the lost continent of Atlantis." Less sensationalistic but equally as interesting explanations include "oceanic flatulence (methane gas erupting from ocean sediments) and disruptions in geomagnetic lines of flux," (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). The oceanic flatulence idea is related to the presence of methane hydrates, which could bubble up from the ocean floor and somehow cause ships to disappear (Wagner). Obringer adds, "scientists have documented deviations from the norm in the area and have found some interesting formations on the seafloor within the Bermuda Triangle's boundaries," (1). Such explanations seem scientific on the surface, but have not yet been proven any more than UFO theories have.
Magnetic irregularities have been known to interfere with on board ship navigation systems. Therefore, many if not most, of the theories about the Bermuda Triangle are related to the investigation of sources for the magnetic irregularities. Christopher Columbus documented several "odd occurrences" in the region, related to an erratic compass that pointed northwest one moment and northeast the next (Hamilton 6). He would not be the last sailor to do so. Magnetic irregularities have been reported enough times in the Bermuda triangle to give rise to a prevailing theory that the area has magnetic vortices or magnetic variations (Wagner 1). The source of these magnetic irregularities could be beneath the sea.
In Interdimensional Universe: The New Science of Paranormal Phenomena, author Imbrogno reports that the Bermuda Triangle is a portal of sorts, which opens and closes according to a cyclical rhythm. The vortex theory might be linked to the electronic fog theory, which is explained by MacGregor in his book The Fog. In The Fog, the author details his personal experience flying through the Bermuda Triangle and experiencing a strange and seemingly endless fog that made him and his partner lose track of both time and space. The electrical storm or electronic fog theory is explored visually in the 2009 film Triangle, directed by Christopher Smith. In Triangle, the electric fog wreaks havoc on the characters' sense of reality, causing them to experience deja vus as well as morbid space-time warps.
A space-time continuum warp remains one of the more appealing explanations for the Bermuda Triangle. The space-time warp theory has been put forth to explain why crew bodies, and whole ships, cannot be found after a disappearance. There are no wrecks for many of the planes and ships lost in the Saragasso Sea. A warp in the space-time continuum located in the Bermuda Triangle could explain both why the captains of the ships lost control of the navigational equipment, and why the ships and crew disappeared. The television miniseries The Triangle, which aired in 2005 and was directed by Craig Baxley, addresses a similar concept called a wormhole, which messes with the standard space-time continuum. In The Triangle, though, the American government is also implicated in the phenomena. The United States Navy is running a massive deep-sea experimental facility in which they are testing manipulations of space and time.
The implication of the American Navy seems too much like a modern interpretation of a phenomenon that has been occurring since Columbus and probably before his boats set sail for the New World. A more likely explanation is, therefore, the lost civilization of Atlantis developing a similarly advanced underwater exploration laboratory. The civilization of Atlantis is believed to have developed "amazing advanced technology, and that somehow remnants of it might still be active somewhere on the ocean floor. This technology, they say, might interfere with the instrumentation on modern ships and planes, causing them to sink and crash," (Wagner). The hollow earth theory, which posits the existence of a culture dwelling deep in the earth's core, might also be implicated in the Devil's Triangle.
Columbus also reported seeing strange lights in the distance like flickering candles: could they have been UFOs? (Hamilton 7). Several similar reports of strange lights have been reported…