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The Bermuda Triangle: Legends, Myths & Mystery

by
Nov 15th, 2021

The area near our luxury South Florida apartments in Miami form one corner of the Bermuda Triangle, a mysterious phenomenon that has baffled scientists and seafarers alike for decades.

But what exactly is this spooky legend? And is there any credibility behind the claims of paranormal activity? Let’s find out!

What exactly is the Bermuda Triangle

Where and what is the Bermuda Triangle?

The Bermuda Triangle has long been an ocean legend that’s baffled locals and spooked the superstitious, creating enough mystery that the loosely defined area is also commonly known as the Devil’s Triangle. 

To put it simply, the Bermuda Triangle is an area covering anywhere from half a million to 1.5 million square miles just off Florida’s east coast. It’s not a universally agreed-upon boundary, and since it’s also not technically an officially recognized region, you won’t see the Triangle on any world map. You can, however, loosely trace out the ominous shape on a map if you know where to look! 

Trace a line from Miami to Bermuda, a small island about a thousand miles northeast in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. From there, draw a line straight to San Juan in Puerto Rico, then another line back to Miami. This triangle you’re left with is the supposed Bermuda Triangle, but many extend its borders to cover a much larger area. 

Stories of missing ships, troubling storms, vanishing aircraft and communication blackouts within the triangle lend to the mystery that’s now become a part of pop culture and modern-day storytelling, but what exactly are the stories behind the infamous Bermuda Triangle? 

Origin of the legends

Legends surrounding the Bermuda Triangle have only been around since the mid 20th century, surprisingly.

On September 17, 1950, The Miami Herald published an article detailing several mysterious disappearances in the murky waters surrounding Bermuda. The author, Edward Van Winkle Jones, detailed the unknown fates of one ship, three planes, one convoy of five torpedo planes and a rescue craft that had gone missing in a five-year span, a total of 135 people who never made it to their final destination.

A few years later in 1952, another article popped up in paranormal magazine Fate that expanded the list of missing craft and elaborated on the convoy of five planes that disappeared on a training mission in 1945. This was the first time that the triangular area was described, as well as the first time a paranormal or supernatural element was suggested. The term “Bermuda Triangle” first appeared in 1964 by pulp writer Vincent Gaddis in the magazine Argosy.

Over the years, more and more writers wrote about the eerie disappearances and the mysterious legends surrounding the Bermuda Triangle. The theories surrounding the vanishings differ from person to person and case to case, but it certainly makes for interesting stories. 

Is the Bermuda Triangle really mysterious?

There’s no denying the fact that ships and planes have disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle, but the causes behind these mysteries are as varied as the people who tell them. There’s no one single story behind all the accidents, just as there is no one single reason behind all the car accidents in Florida. 

Some claim that the Triangle’s paranormal activities are because the fabled lost city of Atlantis is located directly within, and some say that UFOs are involved. The list goes on.

There are at least five natural explanations for the disappearances, though maybe not quite as exciting as a lost underwater civilization.

Weather

If you know anything about Florida's penchant for hurricanes and tropical storms, then it may not come as too much of a surprise that violent weather patterns could, realistically, play a large role in the disappearances. 

Compass variations

If one were to track a compass’ direction over The Bermuda Triangle, they would find that the compass direction changes ever so slightly. This phenomenon occurs all over the world, though, not just in the Bermuda Triangle, as magnetic north and true north are not the same all around the world. Only in a few places will a compass show both magnetic north and true north accurately at the same time, and the Bermuda Triangle is not one of them. So essentially, the theory doesn’t hold water.  

The Gulf Stream

The Gulf Stream is an extremely strong surface current that circulates around the Atlantic Ocean In the northern hemisphere. This strong current can quickly move debris and scatter it across the ocean, making it hard to locate down aircraft and sunken ships. 

Human error 

Whether it's stubbornness, inexperience, arrogance, fear or just plain mistakes, human error is the most cited explanation for seafaring disappearances. 

Famous disappearances & occurrences

Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus reportedly saw a column of fire in the waters around what was (though still unknown to him) the Bermuda area. It was likely a meteor. He also wrote about unusual compass readings. 

HMS Atalanta

The HMS Atalanta set sail for England from Bermuda on January 31, 1880, and disappeared soon after, with all 281 crew and travelers declared lost. Though there is no way to be certain what happened. Historians believe that the incident was likely caused by the combination of a powerful storm and the inexperience of the crew, who were nearly all trainees. 

USS Cyclops

The disappearance of the USS Cyclops and its crew resulted in the largest non-war-related loss of life in the U.S. Navy. Sometime soon after March 4, 1918, the ship, its crew of 309 and its full load of manganese ore disappeared after departing the island of Barbados. The prevailing theory is that the ship was not designed to carry such dense material and, as a result, sank. The Cyclops’s two sister ships sank in the North Atlantic during World War II while carrying the same substance, adding strength to the theory.

Carroll A Deering

This five-masted schooner was found utterly deserted on January 31, 1921 just off the shores of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. The ship was run aground with no evidence of what happened to the crew. The waters off the coast of North Carolina are considered part of the Bermuda Triangle to some theorists. 

Flight 19

The story that truly started it all: the mysterious tale of Flight 19 is what Edward Van Winkle Jones wrote about in his 1950 Bermuda Triangle article and what kicked off a slew of research into the seemingly-paranormal area. 

Flight 19 was a U.S. Navy training flight made up of five torpedo bombers based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. On December 5, 1945, the five planes manned by a total of 14 crew departed the mainland for a training exercise in which they’d fly 140 miles east into the Atlantic before looping around and heading back. The planes never returned to base. Even the search and rescue plane that departed to look for the missing flight was lost to sea.

The Navy conducted an investigation into the disappearances and determined that the leader of the flight had mistakenly identified a small cluster of islands off Florida’s coast as the Florida Keys, messing up their navigation and leading them further out to sea. The rescue plane was believed to have malfunctioned mid-flight. 

We may never know how many ships and planes have been lost at sea in the Bermuda Triangle over the centuries. We may never know how they all disappeared, when they disappeared or all the circumstances around their disappearances. We may never know if Atlantis is really at the bottom of the ocean just off the shore of Miami (though, it would be pretty cool if it was). 

What we do know, however, is that the Bermuda Triangle is not nearly the most dangerous area of the ocean, but it is certainly one of the most heavily trafficked areas. Just as a high concentration of car accidents occur on the New Jersey Turnpike because it is so heavily traveled, it's no wonder that a larger concentration of disappearances happen in the 1.5 million square miles of heavily-trafficked waterways. 

Moral of the story: don’t freak out too much or deny any cruises through the Bermuda Triangle. You’ll be fine!

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Featured photo courtesy Pixabay/ PublicDomainPictures

Author of Article

Colleen Ford is a South African who now lives in Spokane, Washington. She loves to travel, camp (in warm weather) and bake.

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