Many bizarre theories have been put forth as to why there have been so many disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle. One is that alien abductions are to blame. Charles Berlitz wrote of "suggestions of inter-dimensional changeover through a passageway equivalent to a 'hole in the sky' (which aircraft can enter but not leave), [while] others believe the disappearances are engineered by entities from inner or outer space."
Others think that the Bermuda Triangle area is home to the lost city of Atlantis and remnants of its advanced technologies. Psychic Edgar Cayce said that Bimini was one of the mountaintops of ancient Atlantis and that Atlantis had some special crystals that radiated so much energy they could cause navigational equipment on ships and planes to malfunction [source: Bermuda Attractions].
But we don't need to go with supernatural reasons to explain the incidents in the Bermuda Triangle. The area is one of the most highly trafficked for amateur pilots and sailors, and more traffic leads to more accidents and disappearances. Here are some other explanations:
The Bermuda Triangle is an area where the weather can be treacherous. Most Atlantic tropical storms and hurricanes pass through the area, and the Gulf Stream can cause quick, sometimes violent weather shifts. In the days before the development of modern weather forecasting, it's not hard to imagine ships being caught off guard [source: NOAA]. Waterspouts that could easily destroy a passing plane or ship are also not uncommon. A waterspout is simply a tornado at sea that pulls water from the ocean surface. Some are accompanied by winds of 125 miles (200 kilometers) an hour [source: NASA].
The Gulf Stream, which travels along the western edge of the Triangle, is extremely swift and turbulent. It can pose extreme navigational challenges, especially for inexperienced sailors. The Gulf Stream has been reported to move faster than 4-5 knots per hour (around 7-9 kph) in some areas — that's 300 times faster than the Amazon River. This is more than enough to throw sailors hundreds of miles off course if they don't compensate correctly for the current. It can also quickly erase any evidence of a disaster [source: Mayell].
Topography and Seismic Effects
The many islands in the Caribbean create lots of areas of shallow water, which can be treacherous to ships [source: NOAA]. But at the same time, some of the deepest trenches in the world are found in the area of the Bermuda Triangle, including the Puerto Rico Trench, which goes down to 27,500 feet (8,229 meters) below sea level. Ships or planes that sink into these deep trenches will probably never be found [source: Mayell].
Other possible environmental effects include underwater earthquakes, as scientists have found a great deal of seismic activity in the area. Back in 1817, a 7.4 earthquake at the northern end of the Triangle caused a tsunami that violently tossed ships as far north as the Delaware River south of Philadelphia [source: Oskin].
In 2016, researchers at Arctic University of Norway caused a sensation when they announced the discovery of giant craters up to half a mile (0.8 kilometer) wide in the Barents Sea off the coast of Norway, which they believed were caused by exploding natural gas that had migrated from deep oil deposits and accumulated in shallow rocks. Some newspapers seized upon the idea that such blowouts might explain the disappearance of ships in the Bermuda Triangle. But in a media release, one of the researchers, Professor Karin Andreassen, made clear that the scientists were not making any links to the Triangle [source: CAGE]. National Geographic News described the notion that methane explosions might be the explanation for disappearances in the Triangle as a "fringe" theory [source: Howard].
As we have already seen, many of the Bermuda Triangle disappearances can be attributed to good ol' human error — people misreading compasses, making poor navigational decisions, misunderstanding their location and the like. It's worth noting that as navigational equipment has improved, there have been far fewer instances of mysterious disappearances in the waters of the Atlantic.
For lots more information on the Bermuda Triangle and related topics, check out the links on the next page.
Originally Published: Aug 2, 2006