The “Bermuda Triangle” is supposed to be a triangular imaginary area traced
around the southeastern Atlantic coast of the United States, with the points of
the triangle as the Bermuda, Miami, Puerto Rico and San Juan; which is noted for
a high incidence of unexplained losses of ships, small boats, and aircraft.
In the past, extensive, but futile Coast Guard searches prompted by search and
rescue cases such as the disappearances of an entire squadron of TBM Avengers
shortly after take off from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., or the traceless sinking of
USS Cyclops and Marine Sulphur Queen have lent credence to the
popular belief in the mystery and the supernatural qualities of the
Countless theories attempting to explain the many disappearances have been
offered throughout the history of the area. The most practical seem to be
environmental and those citing human error. The majority of disappearances
be attributed to the area’s unique environmental features. 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. An area called the “Devil’s Sea” by Japanese and Filipino seamen,
located off the east coast of Japan, also exhibits the same magnetic
characteristics. It is also known for its mysterious disappearances.
Another environmental factor is the character of the Gulf Stream. It is
extremely swift and turbulent and can quickly erase any evidence of a disaster.
The unpredictable Caribbean-Atlantic weather pattern also plays its role. Sudden
local thunder storms and water spouts often spell disaster for pilots and
mariners. Finally, the topography of the ocean floor varies from extensive
shoals around the islands to some of the deepest marine trenches in the world.
With the interaction of the strong currents over the many reefs the topography
is in a state of constant flux and development of new navigational hazards is
Not to be under estimated is the human error factor. A large number of pleasure
boats travel the waters between Florida’s Gold Coast and the Bahamas. All too
often, crossings are attempted with too small a boat, insufficient knowledge of
the area’s hazards, and a lack of good seamanship.
The Coast Guard is not impressed with supernatural explanations of disasters at
sea. It has been their experience that the combined forces of nature and
unpredictability of mankind outdo even the most far fetched science fiction many
times each year.
We know of no maps that delineate the boundaries of the Bermuda Triangle.
However, there are general area maps available through the Distribution Control
Department, U.S. Naval Oceanographic Office, Washington, D.C. 20390. Of
particular interest to students if mysterious happenings may be the “Aeromagnetic
Charts of the U.S. Coastal Region,” H.O. Series 17507, 15 sheets. Numbers 9
through 15 cover the “Bermuda Triangle.”
Interest in the “Bermuda Triangle” can be traced to (1) the cover
article in the August 1968 Argosy, “The Spreading Mystery of the
Bermuda Triangle”, (2) the answer to a letter to the editor of the January
1969 Playboy, and (3) an article in August 4, 1968 I, “Limbo of Lost
Ships”, by Leslie Lieber. Also, many newspapers carried a December 22, 1967
National Geographic Society news release which was derived largely from Vincent
Gaddis’ Invisible Horizons: True Mysteries of the Sea (Chilton Books,
Philadelphia, 1965. OCLC# 681276) Chapter 13, “The Triangle of Death”,
in Mr. Gaddis’ book, presents the most comprehensive account of the mysteries of
the Bermuda Triangle. Gaddis describes nine of the more intriguing mysteries and
provides copious notes and references. Much of the chapter is reprinted from an
article by Mr. Gaddis, “The Deadly Bermuda Triangle”, in the February
1964 Argosy. The article elicited a large and enthusiastic response from
the magazine’s readers. Perhaps the most interesting letter, which appeared in
the May 1964 Argosy‘s “Back Talk” section, recounts a
mysterious and frightening incident in an aircraft flying over the area in 1944.
(The Summary based upon the Bermuda Triangle Fact
by the U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters and the
© US Navy