The disappearances within the Bermuda Triangle -- a 500,000-square-foot patch of ocean that uses the southern tip of Florida, San Juan and Bermuda as its apexes -- is a legend that goes back all the way to Christopher Columbus. According to the explorer, his compasses went off the charts, strange lights were seen off the shore of Bermuda and burst of flames fell into the sea from the sky. The “Bermuda Triangle” (or the “Hodoo Sea,” “Devil’s Triangle,” “Limbo of the Lost”) was coined by journalist Vincent Gaddis in 1964, though, when more and more aircraft and sea vessels disappeared without a trace in this section of the ocean.
The most recent, high-profile disappearance within the confines of this theoretical triangle was Jennifer Blumin, CEO of event planning firm Skylight Group in New York City, her boyfriend, Nathan Ulrich, and her two young sons. Their small, private plane disappeared from radar over the Bermuda Triangle during a time that no inclement weather was reported, and only small pieces of debris have been found since then.
Nevertheless, historical legend will tell you that up to 1,000 disappearances have occurred in the triangle, one of the freakiest and unexplained ones being that of Flight 19, when five US Navy TBM Avenger torpedo bombers vanished and were never found.
While most reputable sources will dismiss any mystery surrounding disappearances, theories abound. Ignoring any that cite paranormal activity, most people are of the understanding that strange weather patterns and inaccurate reports are mostly to blame.
For example, lots of the disappearances allegedly happened in calm waters or air -- not an environment that would pose a threat to passing ships or planes. But some theories say that this must not be the case, and that phenomenon such as white squalls and seas tornados could explain why missing vessels have never been found. “Air-bombs,” hexagonal clouds that create winds up to 170 miles per hour, have also been considered. Weather in that section of the world can be unpredictable; it’s actually pretty easy to assume that planes and ships have been taken down by surprise storms that become too powerful too quickly.
And have you ever heard of a rogue wave? Say three different storms approach from different directions. What happens when they meet? Waves that reach up to 100 feet tall and can sink ships in just minutes, that's what. Scientist Dr. Simon Boxall told Bustle just last year that waves like that, which have been observed by satellites off the coast of South Africa, could be absolutely horrific.
“The bigger the boat gets, the more damage is done. If you can imagine a rogue wave with peaks at either end, there’s nothing below the boat, so it snaps in two. If it happens, it can sink in two to three minutes,” he said.
There’s also a theory that discusses methane gas that rises from the sea floor. Scientists are claiming that giant bursts of methane bubbles could push water away from a ship, and as we’ve previously learned, you need to have an equal amount of water around a ship in order for it to continue floating. The methane can also explain plane crashes: If methane quickly rises into the air, it could blow up an airplane’s engine.
So, fine, weather and science are the reasons these vessels go down. As for why we never find the remains, well...the ocean is huge. That’s all I got.
What’s more, scientists mostly agree that the number of disappearances that occur in the Bermuda Triangle isn’t necessarily more alarming than that which happen elsewhere. The range of ocean that makes up the triangle is an extremely busy section of the sea -- scores of cargo ships and planes are heading through there daily. According to Australian science communicator Karl Kruszelnicki, “The number that go missing in the Bermuda Triangle is the same as anywhere in the world on a percentage basis.”
We’re all just being dramatic, apparently.
Bermuda has also been a source of fright for centuries. It was nicknamed “The Devil’s Island” by the earliest sea travelers because of its wildlife: They were afraid of the strange bird calls and pig squeals they’d hear from offshore. That, and some pretty hazardous reefs surround the island, so no one felt comfortable being near the island.
My theory? We still have so much to learn about the ocean and crazy weather patterns, and paired with how freaked out people have historically been about Bermuda and the unknown, it’s a recipe for scary stories. Enjoy your cruises in peace.