Are you ready to get lost? There’s no more captivating or mysterious place than the Bermuda Triangle. It’s said to swallow every plane or ship that passes over it. Not just legend, there are very real geographical mysteries about the triangle that connects San Juan, Miami, and (of course) Bermuda. Its secrets extend back throughout history and continue to puzzle people today.
The Bermuda Triangle has popped up in pop culture since the 60’s. It’s as if the whole concept was just made up for a Scooby Doo episode. A mysterious triangle of islands that makes giant ships, high-flying planes, and wayward travelers disappear without a trace? That’s downright ghoulish.
The reputation of the Bermuda Triangle inspired a board game in 1976 for families with odd senses of humor and later provided the spooky setting of a video game for the original ATARI gaming system. A 10,000 reward was advertised in the 1970’s to movie-goers, offering the prize to anyone who could solve the Bermuda Triangle mystery after watching a Vincent Price-narrated documentary about it. Nobody did, but many people tried. Books, films, songs, and more, the Bermuda Triangle built a cult following of curious minds and conspiracy theories.
With so much fiction floating around out there, what’s the truth? We’ve untangled decades of rumors and speculation to bring you 20 solid facts about what has gone down in this legendary patch of the Atlantic Ocean. See whether you’ve been duped by the hoaxes and learn the truth with our fact roundup.
20 The Bermuda Triangle Is Massive
When you think of the Bermuda Triangle, you might picture a weird little zone in a remote part of the Atlantic Ocean. In reality, this geographical triangle encompasses somewhere between 440,000 to 1,510,000 square miles of ocean! Reports of its exact measurements have changed over the years (it’s hard to pin down aquatic square footage), but it’s always been huge.
The huge size of the triangle contributes to the difficulty–and often impossibility–of recovering any debris or wreckage from the ships and planes that have crashed within it. If finding your phone in your apartment can be a tough task, imagine how impossible it is to find clear evidence of a plane crash in 500,000 square miles at sea.
19 It Moves Around!
Just like its size can’t be precisely pinned down, its effects are also hard to put borders around. The triangle’s strange weather, electromagnetic issues, and other phenomena can be experienced a bit outside the borders of its geographical markers. Depending on the weather or time of year, the boundaries of the triangle can extend beyond where it’s been drawn on a map.
Even though Miami, San Juan, and Bermuda are definitely fixed locations, the Bermuda Triangle is not as stable. Think of it as a triangular shape hovering above these geographical points, blowing here and there with the rough sea winds.
18 It’s Also Known As The ‘Devil’s Triangle’
Something with that name can’t be anything but bad news. In the 1950’s, when people started experiencing the strangeness of the region for themselves on commercial flights, a bunch of new nicknames for the area came to life. The most dramatic is probably “Limbo of the Lost,” referencing the triangle’s ability to hide bodies that can’t be confirmed as dead or alive.
The term ‘Bermuda Triangle’ was first used in an article by Vincent H. Gaddis for a pulp fiction magazine in 1964. The National Geographic Society reprinted some of Gaddis’ work, giving credibility to his choice of name for the region. Now, ‘Bermuda Triangle’ is the preferred term of scientists and conspiracy theorists alike.
17 Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ Was Inspired By It
He may not have known it, but William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest was directly inspired by what we now know as the Bermuda Triangle. He came up with the idea for his shipwreck plot from the 1609 Bermuda Wreck, a terrible incident of a ship ran asunder in the waters between Bermuda and Florida.
News didn’t travel fast in those days, but propaganda about the Bermuda Wreck was circulated in Britain while Shakespeare wrote The Tempest, and historians have drawn many connections between his words and the ones in the propaganda. “The direful spectacle of the wreck” indeed!
16 It Doesn’t Recognize Magnetic North
The Bermuda Triangle is one of very few places on Earth that do not point compasses toward Magnetic North. Instead, it causes them to point toward true north, which veers in a slightly different direction. It makes sense when you remember that Earth rotates on a tilted axis. Magnetic north is tied to the metal of the Earth’s core, which tilts and shifts with the planet. True north deals with the actual North Pole. You know, where Santa lives.
Ships and planes navigate using magnetic north, but when they encounter the Bermuda Triangle, the region pulls their compasses to point toward true north instead, causing a lot of confusion. This is one of the scientific reasons behind the triangle’s strangeness.
15 Paranormal Investigators Blame Aliens
It is not proven that aliens are involved in the Bermuda Triangle mysteries, but it is a true fact that many paranormal investigators believe that they are. Alien abduction is their best guess as to where the missing machines and individuals have gotten to after going missing from the Bermuda Triangle. UFO sightings reported by people on the islands surrounding the triangle add fuel to their theory.
The idea that aliens are behind it all is not our favorite explanation, but this has gotten a lot of traction over the years. Steven Spielberg even explored the idea in his film Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Read on to learn about the naval flight crew that inspired his characters.
14 It Sunk The USS Cyclops
One of the Bermuda Triangle’s earliest and most deadly mysteries involves a gigantic 542-foot-long cargo ship called the USS Cyclops. In March of 1918, this ship was carrying more than 300 men and 10,000 tons of manganese ore across the Atlantic. Somewhere between Barbados and the Chesapeake Bay, the entire ship and all of its crew/cargo completely disappeared.
People freaked out because it was a state-of-the-art ship equipped with radios that could have signaled for help, but no SOS distress call was ever sent. An extensive search found absolutely nothing. In former president Woodrow Wilson’s words, “Only God and the sea know what happened to the great ship.” (Later, two of the Cyclops’ sister ships vanished along the same route.)
13 It Obliterated British War Planes
In the 1940’s, loads of war planes flew over the Atlantic to fight alongside allies in Britain or the USA. A few of them were reported to fly over the Bermuda Triangle and disappear without a trace. The most famous of these include the British South American Airways ‘Star Tiger’ and ‘Star Ariel’ planes, along with the ‘Douglas DC-3’ flown by the British Royal Air Force.
These three planes were the height of technology in their day, capable of flying through all of World War II’s roughest skies. Their strength made their disappearances in the triangle even stranger. No distress messages were heard and a Civil Aeronautics Board found no explanations, so these flight disappearances remain unsolved to this day.
12 Five Navy Bomber Planes Disappeared There
In December of 1945, five American Navy bomber planes carrying 14 men took off from Fort Lauderdale, Florida for some practice runs in the clear skies off the coast of Miami. The leader of this mission reported compass/navigation troubles back to the airfield and led the team of planes aimlessly over the waters looking for a place to land until they ran out of fuel.
A rescue plane with a crew of 13 more men was dispatched to recover them that day, but they themselves also got lost and disappeared. Weeks of searching led to no answers. So what does the Navy’s official report of the event say happened? “It’s as if they had flown to Mars.”
11 It Swallowed A Marine Tanker
The marine tanker ship ‘Sulfur Queen’ (gross) was sunk in the Bermuda Triangle in 1963, with 39 well-trained navy men aboard. It was carrying molten sulfur near the southern coast of Florida when it disappeared entirely.
This is a hard ship to lose! It was 7,240 tons and more than 300 feet high. The lost crew members’ families demanded answers from the Coast Guard, but a lengthy search recovered little information or remains of the ship itself. At the end of the Coast Guard’s official inquiry, it stated, “In view of the vast search operations conducted, the ship and her entire crew of 39 men are presumed to be lost.”
10 It Thwarted A Nuclear-powered Submarine
In the 1960’s, nuclear power was making big waves on the global scene. Hippies hated it, but its potential for power was undeniable. One of the exciting new applications for nuclear energy was transportation, particularly for the armed forces. A hi-tech nuclear-powered submarine named ‘Scorpion’ took to the Mediterranean seas in 1968. You guessed it. This ship disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle.
With 99 people on board, the Scorpion was the triangle’s biggest catastrophe to date. The submarine was full to the brim with secret and sophisticated spy gear and manuals, two nuclear torpedoes, and its own advanced nuclear propulsion system. It would have taken quite a storm to disrupt this submarine’s machinery. All were declared “presumed lost.”
9 It Derailed Two Planes In 2017
Now we’re getting a little too close to home! Weird occurrences have continued in the Bermuda Triangle up to modern day, with the latest unexplained moments happening as recently as 2017.
In February of last year, Turkish Airlines flight TK183 experienced unexplained mechanical and electrical problems as it flew over the triangle and was so shaken up by them that it had to completely change course. It landed safely in Washington, D.C. instead of arriving in its intended destination of Havana, Cuba.
In May of 2017, a private plane wasn’t so lucky. It was in contact with air traffic controllers in Miami when it suddenly vanished from the radar and radio waves. Some wreckage was found during the searches that followed.
8 Cyclones Happen In The Triangle
Weird disappearances aside, the naturally occurring weather and climate found in the Bermuda triangle can be dangerous all on its own. Hurricane season hits this part of the world harder than any other. You probably already know that if you saw Twitter during last year’s Hurricane Katia and Hurricane Maria. They shut down large parts of Florida and wiped out so much of Puerto Rico’s infrastructure that national fundraisers were organized for emergency relief.
The Bermuda Triangle experiences these hurricanes in a different way than the islands (or in Florida’s case, peninsula). Cyclones rip through the triangle on their way to becoming tropical storms or hurricanes on land. If that doesn’t deter you from traveling there, then no ghost stories will.
7 The Methane Hydrate Theory
Another science-backed explanation for the triangle’s phenomena is the Methane Hydrate Theory. Some scientists say that large bubbles of methane gas may be rising up through the sea floor below the Bermuda Triangle, leaving great big holes behind. These holes or gaps are covered by soft muddy sand which, when disturbed, wash aside and create vacuums in the water. Ships may be sucked in as the holes are filled by sea muck.
Vladimir Romanovsky of the University of Alaska Fairbanks says that ships floating over the Bermuda Triangle might get sunk by “sinkholes in the ocean produced as a result of decomposing gas hydrates.” This would explain the sinking of heavy ships and hi-tech submarines, but what about the planes?
6 Rock Formations Hint That It May Be Atlantis
If you’re an Atlantis truther, you’ll already know that its legend is tied up in the Bermuda Triangle’s mysteries. If you’re not, that’s probably because there is very little solid proof that this lost civilization has ever existed. A literal shred of proof is reported to be a particular rock formation within the Bermuda Triangle, off the coast of the Bahamas’ Bimini Island.
A jagged line of rocks is submerged just below the surface there. Atlantis believers say that it’s a piece of an ancient road or wall, with markings on it that prove it was made using human tools. It was found in 1968, the year that famous psychic Edgar Cayce predicted that evidence of Atlantis would be found.
5 Christopher Columbus Saw It Catch Fire
When Columbus sailed through the Bermuda Triangle on his first voyage to the New World, he took detailed notes in his travel log. It took several weeks to cross the region, during which he wrote about seeing “a great flame of fire” crashing into the sea and a strange light appearing in the sky. Historians now believe that this was a meteor falling into the ocean, but many conspiracy theorists are convinced that it’s an evidence of early alien activity in the triangle.
Columbus also wrote about his compass going haywire and giving him erratic readings while he traveled through the triangle, which likely has to do with the magnetic obstruction we mentioned in point number 16. Still weird, though.
4 Its ‘Fog’ May Warp Time
In December of 1970, pilot Bruce Gernon was flying to Bimini when he saw a weird, perfectly-round cloud hovering in his path. When he decided to go through it, strange things started to happen.
His plane hit the cloud and he says it became like a tunnel, with “lines on the walls that spun counter clockwise.” His compass was spinning out of control. He contacted Miami’s Air Traffic Control at that point and they said they couldn’t see any planes on their radar in his location.
When the cloud cleared, he was visible on radar again, directly above Miami Beach, having lost 28 minutes on his watch. This event was confirmed by the Air Traffic Control team and never explained.
3 It Houses A US Government Undersea Test Center
Inside the Bermuda Triangle, on the Bahamas’ Andros Island, is the US Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Centre, a.k.a. AUTEC. This is where the American Navy tests their sonar, submarines, naval ships, and other weapons. It has fully submerged equipment designed to perform three-dimensional evaluations and measurements of warfare simulations underwater.
If that sounds complicated, it’s because it is. Millions of dollars per year are spent on the facilitation of this government research center. It’s staffed with the best of the best in underwater research. No strange incidents have been reported to involve AUTEC, but if you’ve seen Stranger Things, you might find its proximity to the mysteries to be sus.
2 It Still Swallows 4 Planes And 20 Ships Per Year
To this day, the Bermuda Triangle is the site of new shipwrecks and plane crashes. An average of 4 aircrafts and 20 ships/yachts go down in the region between San Juan, Miami, and Bermuda every year. Usually, the ships and planes end up being accounted for, aside from a few cases in 2017 we mentioned in point 9 of this list.
Modern scientists think that the Gulf Stream has to do with these rare disappearances, as it is perfectly positioned to sweep away any debris that crashes in certain parts of the triangle. Some also say that the amount of crashes and wrecks makes sense for a highly-trafficked area with tumultuous weather.
1 Your Cruise Ship Might Go Through It
Virtually every cruise ship that sails from the East Coast of the United States to islands in the Caribbean ends up going through the Bermuda Triangle. Some cruises that depart from Miami might skirt around it if they are heading to the western parts of the Caribbean, but of course, they still begin right at one of the triangle’s corners.
It’s likely not something that your cruise director is going to brag about, but it’s simple geography! The next time you take a luxury cruise to or through any Caribbean or Bermudian islands, be aware that plenty of your trips will involve a leisurely float through the Bermuda Triangle. With fair weathers and no mysterious fogs, you should be fine...probably.
Sources: History.com, Encyclopedia.com, ScienceAlert.com