Why Is It Called The Bermuda Triangle—And Is It Real?

Bermuda Triangle region outlined on a map, in blue.

Usually, triangles only strike fear and terror into the hearts of trigonometry students. However, there is one particular triangle that has captivated and terrified people the world over for quite a long time: the Bermuda Triangle. Is the Bermuda Triangle actually real and is there really any good reason to be afraid of this three-cornered geographic area? Let’s brave the unknown together and travel deep into the Bermuda Triangle to learn more about its mysterious reputation.

What is the Bermuda Triangle?

According to myth and urban legend, the Bermuda Triangle is a section of the North Atlantic Ocean in which strange events and paranormal activity occur. All manner of bizarre and scary tales exist about the Bermuda Triangle, including those of alien abductions and the underwater city of Atlantis. The Bermuda Triangle’s spooky reputation is due to a notable number of ships and airplanes that have disappeared while traveling through it.

For centuries, the island of Bermuda and the oceanic area around it was a source of wonder and dread for explorers. For example, explorer Christopher Columbus wrote about seeing strange lights and other weird things while sailing near the island. It is also a popular theory that William Shakespeare’s The Tempest was inspired by a shipwreck that occurred near the island of Bermuda. Clearly, the seas of Bermuda have been weirding people out for quite a long time.

According to most sources, the name Bermuda Triangle was coined by author Vincent Gaddis, who used the name in a 1964 magazine article (“The Deadly Bermuda Triangle”) about the mysterious disappearances in the waters near Bermuda titled. According to The New York Times, other names that have been used to refer to the Bermuda Triangle or the area it encompasses include “Devil’s Triangle,” “Limbo of the Lost,” “the Twilight Zone,” and “Hoodoo Sea.”

Where is the Bermuda Triangle?

In his article, Vincent Gaddis stated that the Bermuda Triangle consisted of an area within an imaginary triangle formed from drawing three lines across Earth’s surface from Florida to Bermuda, Bermuda to Puerto Rico, and from Puerto Rico back to Florida. Most modern maps of the Bermuda Triangle generally follow Gaddis’s original description, sometimes marking the Florida and Puerto Rico points in specific cities, such as Miami or San Juan.

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Bermuda Triangle disappearances

The Bermuda Triangle’s infamous reputation has largely resulted from a number of unexplained disappearances that happened within it.

One of the most famous of these is the disappearance of the USS Cyclops, a US Navy ship that vanished in the Bermuda Triangle in March 1918. The ship never sent out a distress signal and no wreckage was ever recovered. Even today, it is unknown what happened to the ship and its crew. The Navy and even President Woodrow Wilson expressed their bewilderment about the unexplainable disappearance of the ship.

Another high-profile incident was the disappearance of a group of US bombers known as “Flight 19” in December 1945. The planes were performing a routine practice run when the flight leader, an experienced pilot, reported strange interference with the navigational equipment. The apparently lost pilot would lead his team further into the Triangle before communications with the planes would suddenly cease. The Navy sent two rescue planes to find the lost pilots, one of which soon also disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle. No wreckage or bodies from any of the planes were ever recovered, and the Navy stated that the lost planes resulted from “causes or reasons unknown.”

A third high-profile disappearance occurred in January 1948. The British aircraft Star Tiger was scheduled to land in Bermuda due to poor weather conditions. The aircraft’s radio operator was in contact with ground control two hours prior to landing, but the plane never landed and was never heard from again. The Star Tiger never gave a distress call and no trace of the plane nor any of the passengers was ever found. The British Aviation Ministry never gave a reason for the disappearance of the Star Tiger and said that the disappearance “must remain an unsolved mystery.”

As spooky as all of this sounds, the US Navy and Coast Guard unsurprisingly do not attribute any of the disappearances to supernatural activity and give more scientific explanations, such as methane gas eruptions, as to the odd things people might see in the Bermuda Triangle. According to the National Ocean Service, the Bermuda Triangle is an area especially prone to severe storms caused by the Gulf Stream, has many areas of shallow water that make sea travel treacherous, and is known for its tricky navigation due an area where “true north” and magnetic north align.

Today, many airplanes and ships travel through the Bermuda Triangle all of the time without incident. Still, it seems unlikely that any of the urban legends or spooky stories about this triangular terror will dissappear any time soon!

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