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Why Do You Never Hear About The Bermuda Triangle Anymore?

Turns out there was no mystery in the first place.

James Felton

James Felton

Senior Staff Writer

clockOct 11 2022, 09:48 UTC
A map of the earth, with the supposed "Bermuda Triangle" marked with a dotted triangle.
An area that, statistically speaking, does not have that many sunken ships. Image credit: WindVector/shutterstock.com

For much of the latter part of the 20th Century, you couldn't flip through the channels without finding at least one documentary on the Bermuda Triangle, an area in the Atlantic Ocean that was chomping down ships and airplanes like they were Reese's Pieces. 

But over recent years, a new genre of Tweet has come out: asking what happened to the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle.

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What is behind the sudden decline in Bermuda Triangle intrigue? Well, it could have something to do with the fact it has been repeatedly solved, and that there was no mystery in the first place. But for people who are missing that intrigue from their life, let's go back to the beginning.

Interest in a loosely-defined area of ocean between Florida, Puerto Rico, and Bermuda can be traced back to a 1968 article about "Flight 19" in 1945. On 5 December 1945, five US Avenger Torpedo Bombers went missing over the supposed Bermuda Triangle, during average weather conditions and under the control of several experienced pilots, as well as inexperienced pilots who were being trained. 

A radio message was intercepted at around 4 pm between one trainee and their instructor, explaining that they had become uncertain of their position and that the aircraft's compass was malfunctioning. Shortly after that, the planes became lost somewhere east of Florida, and the planes were never seen or heard from again. 

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As intriguing as the article was, planes go missing for all sorts of reasons. In this case, the Navy assumes that after becoming lost the crew were likely forced to make a landing at sea, to which the choppy seas were unsuited.

"It is also possible that some unexpected and unforeseen development of weather conditions may have intervened," they write in a report, "although there is no evidence of freak storms in the area at the time."

Nevertheless, something about the idea of an area where things go missing caught on, and sinkings and missing planes in the area became attributed to it over the years, while sinkings that had happened prior to 1945 got backdated, and attributed to the Triangle in retrospect, including the loss of the USS Cyclops, which disappeared without a trace en-route home from Brazil in 1918.

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In a fact-sheet, the US Coast Guard put together possible rational explanations for disappearances in the area.

"The majority of disappearances can be attributed to the area's unique environmental features," they write. "First, the 'Devil's Triangle' is one of the two places on earth that a magnetic compass does point towards true north. Normally it points toward magnetic north. The difference between the two is known as compass variation. The amount of variation changes by as much as 20 degrees as one circumnavigates the earth. If this compass variation or error is not compensated for, a navigator could find himself far off course and in deep trouble."

They note that another area known as the "Devil's Sea" by fishermen, just off the east coast of Japan, has the same problem.

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"Another environmental factor is the character of the Gulf stream," they continue. "It is extremely swift and turbulent and can quickly erase any evidence of a disaster," quickly turning a tragic loss of a ship into a mystery that may never be solved.

"The unpredictable Caribbean-Atlantic weather pattern also plays its role. Sudden local thunder storms and water spouts often spell disaster for pilots and mariners."

But all of the above is irrelevant, as statistically there are not more accidents that happen in the Bermuda Triangle compared to other areas of the oceans and seas. In fact, a study looking at the most dangerous waters for shipping by documenting accidents and incidents did not feature the Bermuda Triangle in its top 10. Meanwhile, a UK Channel 4 documentary looking into incidents around the Bermuda Triangle determined that "large numbers of ships had not sunk there". 

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Must try harder, mysterious patch of water that supposedly sinks boats.

The belief that there are more sinkings in the area likely comes from the media (and conspiracy theorists) focusing on any sinkings in the area, because of intrigue around the Bermuda Triangle, reinforcing the mystery when really, statistically speaking, accidents are no more likely to occur here than in other areas ships and planes pass over.

So, why has there suddenly been less focus on the Bermuda Triangle? 

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Probably because people making programs and articles about the supposed mystery and enough of the public know that it isn't really a thing, or at least not enough of a mystery to keep pulling in viewers.


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