IT’S a notorious part of the world where scores of ships and planes have vanished without a trace in mysterious circumstances.
The Bermuda Triangle, which stretches over 700,000km of sea from Florida to Puerto Rico and the island of Bermuda in the North Atlantic Ocean, is a puzzle that has long stumped scientists and unsettled sailors.
The Bermuda Triangle, also known as the “Devil’s Triangle”, is said to have claimed at least 1000 human lives, 20 planes and 50 ships in the past 100 years.
On average, five planes continue to go missing in the area each year.
But Australian Scientist Dr Karl Kruszelnicki told news.com.au there is no mystery to solve because the incidents were likely caused by human error.
“According to Lloyds of London and the US coast guard, the number of planes that go missing in the Bermuda Triangle is the same as anywhere in the world on a percentage basis,” Dr Kruszelnicki said.
“It is close to the equator, near a wealthy part of the world, America, therefore you have a lot of traffic.”
The Bermuda Triangle is one of the most heavily travelled shipping lanes in the world, with vessels crossing through to get to ports in America, Europe and the Caribbean.
The mystery surrounding the area grew in the 20th century with a large number of planes and ships going missing over the decades.
In 1918, the USS Cyclops — a large carrier ship that supplied fuel to the American fleet in WWI — was full of heavy cargo when it set sail with 309 people on board.
After it failed to arrive in Baltimore from Barbados, search teams retraced its route but it was never found. Two of the Cyclops’ sister ships disappeared along the same route in 1941.
The legend of the Bermuda Triangle deepened after Flight 19 — which consisted of five TBM Avenger Torpedo Bombers — took off from a US Naval Air Station in Florida on a routine training mission and disappeared, on December 5, 1945. Fourteen crew members were on-board but a total of 27 men vanished that night. A Martin Mariner seaplane with 13 men on-board was deployed to find the missing aircraft but things took a dramatic turn when it also disappeared. To this day, no bodies or wreckage have been found, despite a massive land and sea search.
But Dr Kruszelnicki — who is also the author of The Doctor which is based on his “quest to unearth scientific truths” — said there was a simple explanation.
“They vanish without a trace then another plane sent out to look with them vanishes … (so some people claimed) it must have been aliens’,” he said.
“(But) there was one experienced guy, the rest were inexperienced.
“It wasn’t fine weather, there were 15m waves.”
Torpedo Bomber #28, the lead plane of Flight 19, which vanished Dec. 5, 1945. Picture: News Corp Australia.Source:News Corp Australia
Dr Kruszelnicki said Flight 19’s leader Lieutenant Charles Taylor was told to go west but instead chose to continue flying east.
“If you read the radio transcripts some of the junior pilots are saying, ‘Why don’t we fly to the west?’, and the pilot says, ‘Why don’t we fly to the east?’” he said, suggesting Lt. Taylor was responsible for the flight’s fate.
“(Lt. Taylor) arrived with a hangover, flew off without a watch, and had a history of getting lost and ditching his plane twice before.
“The plane that went to rescue then went missing was seen to blow up.
“It didn’t vanish without a trace.”
The mystery of the Bermuda Triangle has captured the imagination of millions and baffled researchers.
There are many other theories about what has caused so many sea and air crafts to disappear, from gas bubbles and clouds to the less scientifically plausible theories of alternate dimensions and alien abductions.
It has previously been suggested that methane bubbles from the sea floor could be what’s causing ships to sink in the Bermuda Triangle. The theory was later debunked.
Dr Kruszelnicki said the bubbles weren’t a myth but they wouldn’t have brought down the missing ships and planes.
Last year, a group of meteorologists claimed that hexagonal clouds and “air bombs” were to blame for the series of disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle.
The theory suggested clouds over the Bermuda Triangle were linked to powerful “air bombs” that could be behind the area’s curious disappearances.
Meteorologists using radar satellite imagery discovered weird, “hexagonal” shaped clouds between 32km and 80km wide forming over the area unofficially designated as the Bermuda Triangle.
Meteorologist Dr Randy Cerveny said “these types of hexagonal shapes in the ocean are in essence air bombs” and were so powerful they could reach 273km/h — a hurricane-like force easily capable of sinking ships and downing planes.
But the theory was later ruled out as the cause of vessels and aircraft disappearing in the Bermuda Triangle.
Some of the most notable explanations for the disappearances include extreme weather and electronic fog — a meteorological phenomenon which sticks to an aircraft or a ship and causes equipment to malfunction.
Many conspiracy theorists claim the cause is related to something far more sinister.
Some say the US Navy’s Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC), a hub in the Triangle used to test submarines, weapons, sonar, secret projects and reverse-engineered alien technology, is behind the disappearances.
Another widely believed theory is that the Triangle contains souls of African slaves who were thrown overboard by sea captains on their journey to the States. In his book Healing the Haunted, Dr Kenneth McAll claimed that a haunting sound could be heard while sailing in the notorious waters.
Others have claimed there are mysterious forces at play in the dreaded region but their sentiments have been rubbished by authorities.
Dr Kruszelnicki said many of the conspiracy theories stemmed from author Charles Berlitz, who wrote a best-selling book in 1974 called The Bermuda Triangle.
“He couldn’t lie straight in bed,” Dr Kruszelnicki said.
Many scientists, like Dr Kruszelnicki, have argued that the Bermuda Triangle is no more or less dangerous than any other patch of open sea or airspace in the world.