The Bermuda Triangle is a loosely defined region in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean where a number of aircraft and ships are said to have disappeared under mysterious circumstances.
Popular culture has attributed various disappearances to the paranormal or activity by extraterrestrial beings. Documented evidence indicates that a significant percentage of the incidents were spurious, inaccurately reported, or embellished by later authors.
Although reports of unexplained occurrences in the region date to the mid-19th century, the phrase “Bermuda Triangle” didn’t come into use until 1964. The phrase first appeared in print in a pulp magazine article by Vincent Gaddis, who used the phrase to describe a triangular region “that has destroyed hundreds of ships and planes without a trace.”
The exact number of ships and airplanes that have disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle is not known. The most common estimate is about 50 ships and 20 airplanes.
An especially infamous tragedy occurred in March 1918 when the USS Cyclops, a 165-meter (542-foot) long Navy cargo ship with over 300 men and 10,000 tons of manganese ore onboard, sank somewhere between Barbados and the Chesapeake Bay. The Cyclops never sent out an SOS distress call despite being equipped to do so, and an extensive search found no wreckage. “Only God and the sea know what happened to the great ship,” US President Woodrow Wilson later said.
Also the pilots of a squadron of US Navy bombers became disoriented while flying over the area – the planes were never found. Other boats and planes have seemingly vanished from the area in good weather without even radioing distress messages.
The exact boundaries of the Bermuda Triangle are not universally agreed upon. Approximations of the total area range between 1,300,000 and 3,900,000 square kilometers (500,000 and 1,500,000 square miles). By all approximations, the region has a vaguely triangular shape.
Despite its reputation, the Bermuda Triangle does not have a high incidence of disappearances. Disappearances do not occur with greater frequency in the Bermuda Triangle than in any other comparable region of the Atlantic Ocean.
In 2013 the World Wildlife Fund conducted an exhaustive study of maritime shipping lanes and determined that the Bermuda Triangle is not one of the world’s 10 most dangerous bodies of water for shipping.
The vicinity of the Bermuda Triangle is amongst the most heavily traveled shipping lanes in the world, with ships frequently crossing through it for ports in the Americas, Europe and the Caribbean islands.
Cruise ships and pleasure craft regularly sail through the region, and commercial and private aircraft routinely fly over it.
Considering the superstition surrounding the Bermuda Triangle, many people assume that airline pilots actively avoid this area of the ocean. Of course, anyone who has flown from Miami to San Juan, Puerto Rico probably knows that’s not true. In fact, if it were, pretty much everyone’s Caribbean vacation would be ruined.
The deepest point in the Atlantic Ocean, the Milwaukee Depth, is located in the Bermuda Triangle. The Puerto Rico Trench reaches a depth of 8,380 meters (27,493 feet) at the Milwaukee Depth.
Conspiracy theorists have proposed many different, though mostly superstitious and inconceivable, reasons as to why disappearances and disasters occur in the Bermuda Triangle. Some have theorized that the area is a hotbed of alien activity, positing that these extra terrestrial beings are abducting humans for study.
Most reputable sources dismiss the idea that there is any mystery.
One of the most cited explanations in official inquiries as to the loss of any aircraft or vessel is human error. Human stubbornness may have caused businessman Harvey Conover to lose his sailing yacht, Revonoc, as he sailed into the teeth of a storm south of Florida on January 1, 1958.
Unusual features of the area had been noted in the past. Christopher Columbus wrote in his log about bizarre compass bearings in the area.
William Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest,” which some scholars claim was based on a real-life Bermuda shipwreck, may have enhanced the area’s aura of mystery. Nonetheless, reports of unexplained disappearances did not really capture the public’s attention until the 20th century.
It is also known as the Devil’s Triangle or Hurricane Alley.