The Bermuda Triangle also known as Devil’s Triangle and Devil’s Sea is a nearly half-million square-mile (1.2 million km2) area of ocean roughly defined by Bermuda, Puerto Rico, and the southernmost tip of Florida. This area is noted for a high incidence of unexplained losses of ships, small boats, and aircraft.
While there is a common belief that a number of ships and airplanes have disappeared under highly unusual circumstances in this region, the United States Coast Guard and others disagree with that assessment, citing statistics demonstrating that the number of incidents involving lost ships and aircraft is no larger than that of any other heavily traveled region of the world.
The triangle is an arbitrary shape, crudely marking out a corridor of the Atlantic, stretching northward from the West Indies, along the North American seaboard, as far as the Carolinas. In the Age of Sail, ships returning to Europe from parts south would sail north to the Carolinas, then turn east for Europe, taking advantage of the prevailing wind direction across the North Atlantic. Even with the development of steam and internal-combustion engines, a great deal more shipping traffic was (and still is) found nearer the US coastline than towards the empty centre of the Atlantic. The Triangle also loosely conforms with the course of the Gulf Stream as it leaves the West Indies, and has always been an area of volatile weather. The combination of distinctly heavy maritime traffic and tempestuous weather meant that a certain, also distinctly large, number of vessels would flounder in storms.
Given the historical limitations of communications technology, most of those ships that sank without survivors would disappear without a trace. The advent of wireless communications, radar, and satellite navigation meant that the unexplained disappearances largely ceased at some point in the 20th Century. The occasional vessel still sinks, but rarely without a trace. It should be noted that both the concept and the name of the Bermuda Triangle date only to the 1960s, and were the products of an American journalist.
Many theories have been given to explain the extraordinary mystery of these missing ships and planes. Evil extraterrestrials, residue crystals from Atlantis, evil humans with anti-gravity devices or other weird technologies, and vile vortices from the fourth dimension are favorites among fantasy writers. Strange magnetic fields and oceanic flatulence (methane gas from the bottom of the ocean) are favorites among the technically-minded. Weather (thunderstorms, hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, high waves, currents, etc.) bad luck, pirates, explosive cargoes, incompetent navigators, and other natural and human causes are favorites among skeptical investigators.
There are some skeptics who argue that the facts do not support the legend, that there is no mystery to be solved, and nothing that needs explaining.The number of wrecks in this area is not extraordinary, given its size, location and the amount of traffic it receives. Many of the ships and planes that have been identified as having disappeared mysteriously in the Bermuda Triangle were not in the Bermuda Triangle at all. Investigations to date have not produced scientific evidence of any unusual phenomena involved in the disappearances. Thus, any explanation, including so-called scientific ones in terms of methane gas being released from the ocean floor, magnetic disturbances, etc., are not needed. The real mystery is how the Bermuda Triangle became a mystery at all.
The modern legend of the Bermuda Triangle began soon after five Navy planes [Flight 19] vanished on a training mission during a severe storm in 1945. The most logical theory as to why they vanished is that lead pilot Lt. Charles Taylor’s compass failed. The trainees’ planes were not equipped with working navigational instruments. The group was disoriented and simply, though tragically, ran out of fuel. No mysterious forces were likely to have been involved other than the mysterious force of gravity on planes with no fuel. It is true that one of the rescue planes blew up shortly after take-off, but this was likely due to a faulty gas tank rather than to any mysterious forces.
Over the years there have been dozens of articles, books, and television programs promoting the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle. In his study of this material, Larry Kushe found that few did any investigation into the mystery. Rather, they passed on the speculations of their predecessors as if they were passing on the mantle of truth. Of the many uncritical accounts of the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle, perhaps no one has done more to create this myth than Charles Berlitz, who had a bestseller on the subject in 1974. After examining the 400+ page official report of the Navy Board of Investigation of the disappearance of the Navy planes in 1945, Kushe found that the Board wasn’t baffled at all by the incident and did not mention alleged radio transmissions cited by Berlitz in his book. According to Kushe, what isn’t misinterpreted by Berlitz is fabricated. Kushe writes: “If Berlitz were to report that a boat were red, the chance of it being some other color is almost a certainty.” (Berlitz, by the way, did not invent the name; that was done by Vincent Gaddis in “The Deadly Bermuda Triangle,” which appeared in the February, 1964, issue of Argosy, a magazine devoted to fiction.)
In short, the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle became a mystery by a kind of communal reinforcement among uncritical authors and a willing mass media to uncritically pass on the speculation that something mysterious is going on in the Atlantic.