Mysteries, Oddities, and Everything Strange: The Bermuda Triangle

Bridget Vaughan, Staff Writer

The Bermuda Triangle: A Floridian Phenomenon

Florida has its fair share of strange occurrences, but quite possibly one of the most strange lies just east of its southernmost tip. The triangle, comprising Florida, Bermuda, and Puerto Rico at its corners, has been the site where aircraft and sea vessels have vanished by the hundreds. Although the popular urban legend has exploded to a level far greater than its actual danger, the tales told from the Atlantic Ocean are some of the scariest parts of a journey over water. But what exactly has happened in the waters of the triangle, and is it grounded in any real life phenomenon whatsoever?

The triangle itself spans about 500,000 square miles of ocean territory. One of the first to report on the area’s strange occurrences was Christopher Columbus himself, who wrote about a meteor that crashed into the ocean, calling it a great flame of fire. He also experienced odd readings on his compass, likely due to the ever-changing nature of Earth’s magnetic field. It is rumored that William Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest, refers to the mysterious area, but nothing has been confirmed and likely never will be. The first major documented disappearance occurred when the USS Cyclops completely vanished in March 1918. The ship had about 300 men onboard and never sent out any calls for help or signals, leaving no traceable record of its existence. Two other similar ships vanished in the same way Cyclops did, embarking along the same route.

One of the most popular instances of vanishing vehicles came in 1945, when Flight 19 took off from Fort Lauderdale that December around 2 PM. Five Navy planes, more specifically TBM Avenger Torpedo Bombers, were supposed to embark on a two-hour training flight. The 14 men were allegedly practicing bomb runs, but the final contact from these planes occurred at 4 PM the same day before vanishing from existence. A plane with 13 men aboard was sent out to look for the pilots, but it too turned up missing. Throughout history, other ships like the HMS Atlanta, Carroll A. Deering, and Connemara IV have been wiped from the radar without any trace or evidence left of their journeys.

Altogether, about 70 combined airplanes and ships have completely disappeared in the marked area. Most of them simply clipped out of reality due to the calm nature of the water at the time of their disappearance and the lack of any distress or warning signals. All the people and materials that would have been left over from a crash have not appeared whatsoever. The earliest public reports of a mysterious disappearance occurred in the 1950s, but reports began to gain traction after magazine author Vincent Gaddis coined the name in a 1964 edition of his work. Before, the area had gone under the moniker “Devil’s Triangle.” In 1974, Charles Berlitz published an entire novel detailing the mysteries of the Bermuda Triangle, which only brought more attention to the unexplained mystery.

Theories about the nature of the waters have ranged from plausible to out of this world (literally). One of the most popular theories is that the vanishings were caused by a “white squall,” or a storm that appears out of nowhere on seemingly clear days. People who fish around the area have endured these squalls for centuries and would likely attribute the occurrences in the triangle to an unprepared crew. The area surrounding the triangle is very shallow and difficult to navigate. This, combined with the extreme changes of weather caused by the Gulf of Mexico and the quick approach of otherwise unpredicted storms, could lead to disaster for a lonesome group of sea bearers. The United States Navy and Coast Guard do not recognize the Bermuda Triangle as a legitimate area of concern, attributing it to urban legends and rumors that explode out of proportion due to coincidental data. Intense methane deposits from below the surface of the water can also cause ships to explode without warning, leaving little to no evidence of their existence.

Some conspiracy theorists believe otherwise. It has been claimed the Bermuda Triangle is the site of the lost City of Atlantis or that it holds a portal to another dimension. Others believe that the whole disaster has been caused by alien abduction or sorcery from a distant world. Whether you choose to believe the scientific explanations or paranormal hypotheses, the Bermuda Triangle will likely forever remain a mystery shrouded in questions with nearly impossible answers. Travel occurs nearly every day in the area, and the whole incident is likely nothing more than an unfortunate series of coincidences. Despite the let down, theorizing about the potential sources of these incidents is always an enjoyable pastime.