Let’s get this out of the way right at the start: The Bermuda Triangle is bullshit. Planes and boats do not go missing in the space between Puerto Rico, Florida and Bermuda any more than they do in any other part of the world – there’s no statistical significance to the region at all. Even though there are plenty of natural mechanisms which could sink boats over the oceans, almost none of them exist in the Triangle.
Despite that, the Triangle has made it into the news again. Although we were initially braced for another round of nonsense explanations behind the myth, fortunately, for the first time in ages, the reports are actually pointing out that the phenomenon simply doesn’t exist.
During an on-air interview with news.com.au, one Karl Kruszelnicki – a well-known science communicator out of Australia – notes that the number of vessels and aircraft that disappear in the area “is the same as anywhere else in the world on a percentage basis.”
“It is close to the equator, near a wealthy part of the world, America, therefore you have a lot of traffic.”
According to Kruszelnicki, the myth behind the Bermuda Triangle began when several high-profile military convoys – and their subsequent rescue missions – went down in the region between the First and Second World Wars. In reality, terrible weather and less rigid boats and aircraft ensure plenty of disappearances.
Some of the pilots that went missing back in the day were also prone to making catastrophic mistakes, including frequently getting lost, drinking heavily before flying, and even leaving without the appropriate aviation equipment on board.
Bodies and wreckage were never found in most cases, but this isn’t surprising considering that it’s a massive body of water that’s incredibly deep. Even today, the wreckage of planes and boats are rarely located despite massive advances in reconnaissance and tracking technology.
Nevertheless, this combination of missing crew and highly publicized disappearances ensured a legend was born. Despite the fact that it’s long been known that there’s nothing mystical or otherworldly about the Triangle, plenty of hypotheses have sprung up attempting to “explain” these vanishings – and they’ve ranged from the science-flavored to the totally outlandish.
Most recently, people have been suggesting that methane bubbles rising up from frozen caches beneath the sea have been swallowing up boats. Although this is somewhat scientifically plausible, there’s a problem with this: there are no methane reserves beneath the Triangle.
As noted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Triangle itself doesn’t officially exist. Even though they point out that “environmental conditions” could explain many of the disappearances, they emphasize that the “US Board of Geographic Names does not recognize the Bermuda Triangle as an official name and does not maintain an official file on the area.”
“There is no evidence that mysterious disappearances occur with any greater frequency in the Bermuda Triangle than in any other large, well-traveled area of the ocean,” NOAA concludes.
In fact, no reputable scientific organization considers the Bermuda Triangle to be a bona fide thing. So it’s rather nice that, for once, everyone else seems to think so too.