The Bermuda Triangle is a 1.5 million square mile area of ocean roughly defined by Bermuda, Puerto Rico, and the southern tip of Florida. It is supposedly a paranormal site in which the laws of physics are violated or altered.
It is said that within this area a number of ships and planes have disappeared under highly unusual circumstances. The United States Coast Guard and others disagree with the assessment of paranormal activity, arguing that the number of incidents involving ships and planes are no larger than any other heavily traveled region of the world.
Another area that is classified by many as having the same paranormal effects is the Devil's Triangle, located near Japan.
The first mention of any disappearances in the area was made in 1950 by E.V.W. Jones as a sidebar on the Associated Press wire service regarding recent ship losses in the area. Jones' article notes the "mysterious disappearances" of ships, planes and small boats in the region, and ascribes it the name "The Devil's Sea." It was mentioned again in 1952 in a Fate Magazine article by George X. Sand, who outlined several "strange marine disappearances". The term "Bermuda Triangle" was popularized by Vincent Gaddis in a 1964 Argosy feature.
The area achieved its fame largely through the efforts of Charles Berlitz in his 1974 book The Bermuda Triangle. The book consists of a series of recountings of mysterious disappearances of ships and aircraft, in particular, the loss of a squadron of five U.S. Navy aircraft.
The book was a best-seller, and many interested readers offered theories to explain the nature of the disappearances. The list includes natural storms, transportation by extraterrestrial technology, high traffic volumes (and correspondingly high accident rates), a "temporal hole," the lost Atlantis empire from the bottom of the ocean, and other natural and supernatural causes.
Critics have charged that Berlitz, and others have exaggerated the "mysterious" aspects of some cases (Berlitz himself did not advocate any supernatural explanation), and argue that the Bermuda Triangle sees no more "disappearances" than any comparable area of the oceans. Of note, Lloyd's of London has determined the "triangle" to be no more dangerous than any other piece of the ocean, and does not charge unusual rates of insurance for passage through the area. Coast Guard records confirm this.
Skeptics comment that the disappearance of a train between two stops would be more convincing evidence of paranormal activity, and the fact that such things do not occur suggests that paranormal explanations are not needed to explain the disappearance of ships and airplanes in the far less predictable open ocean.
Intrigued by the number of students coming to him looking for information about the Bermuda Triangle, Lawrence Kusche, a reference librarian with Arizona State University at the time of the "Flight 19" incident, began an exhaustive follow-up investigation of the original reports. His findings were eventually published in 1975 as The Bermuda Triangle Mystery: Solved.
Kusche's research revealed a number of inconsistencies between Berlitz's accounts and statements from eyewitnesses, participants, and others involved in the initial incidents. He noted cases where pertinent but late-arriving information went unreported. The Berlitz book included the disappearance of round-the-world yachtsman Donald Crowhurst as a mystery, despite clear evidence that Crowhurst had fabricated the accounts of his voyage, and that his diary strongly suggested he had committed suicide. An ore carrier Berlitz recounts as lost without trace three days out of an Atlantic port was actually lost three days out of a port of the same name in the Pacific Ocean. Kusche argues that a large percentage of the incidents attributed to the Bermuda triangle's mysterious influence actually occurred well outside it,
Kusche came to several conclusions:
With this area being one of the busiest shipping areas in the world, the proportion of losses was no greater than anywhere else.
In an area with frequent tropical storms, the total disappearance of some ships was not unlikely or mysterious, and the number of such disappearances was exaggerated by sloppy research, when a missing boat would be reported in the press, but not its eventual return to port.
In actual disappearances, the circumstances were frequently misreported in the Bermuda Triangle books: the number of ships disappearing in supposedly still, calm weather did not jibe with press weather reports published at the time. While Kusche's analysis provides a skeptical counterbalance to Berlitz's book, we can still expect to see books and websites devoted to uncovering the mysteries of the Bermuda Triangle.
An explanation for some of the disappearances focuses on the presence of vast fields of methane hydrates on the continental shelves. A paper was published by the United States Geological Survey about the appearance of hydrates in the Blake Ridge area, offshore southeastern United States, in 1981. Periodic methane eruptions are capable of producing ship-sized bubbles, or regions of water with so much dissolved gas, that the water density is no longer capable of providing adequate buoyancy for ships to float.. If this were the case, such an area forming around a ship could, hypothetically, cause it to sink almost directly and without warning. The effects of such eruptions are also consistent with reports which include accounts of mists, foamy water, changes in ship buoyancy, and extensive oil slicks.
A geologist from the USGS states that although it is possible for a gas release to cause a ship to sink, he does not believe this has resulted in sinking of ships in the Bermuda Triangle.
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