How did Bermuda Triangle
Become a fabricated mystery?
Larry Kusche, the American research librarian, pilot and an author concluded that Bermuda Triangle is nothing but a "Manufactured Mystery". And he proved and documented this in his book "The Bermuda Triangle Mystery - Solved" published in 1975 by analyzing numerous incidents using documentary evidence found in news papers, journals and meteorological reports. The only exceptions were few cases where enough information was not available to accurately arrive at the cause.
Then why the mystery surrounding Bermuda Triangle and disappearances of ships and planes continue to intrigue many in the world? Let's start with the historical events and arrive at the real cause as to why Bermuda Triangle is actually nothing but a fabricated menace.
Voyage of Columbus
The 3000-mile voyage of Christopher Columbus in 1492 from Canary Islands of Spain first created an air of mystery about Bermuda Triangle located on the North Atlantic
. Columbus however noted all his observations on the log book only as matter-of-facts and did not draw any conclusion out of that. But the facts got distorted by the sailors who followed him and later by authors.
Columbus started his voyage in August 1492 with 3 small ships and 90 men. He was to go across the Atlantic to discover the New World and colonize settlements. Those days he had no chart to follow, had no idea about the time it would take, no clue about what to expect in terms of weather conditions and where to seek help. All what he had was a compass and the north star to guide. Today with advanced satellite, GPS and other sophisticated systems, the scientists are able to pin point the position of an object and accurately forecast what might be coming ahead. He had no such tools.
When they reached Sargasso Sea
in the North Atlantic (a vast ocean area within Bermuda Triangle), the fleet encountered a thick mat of seaweed covering the entire area and stretching as far as the eyes could see. Sargasso Sea area is bounded by ocean currents in all sides and as a result the whole area slowly rotates clockwise. Very low winds make sailing difficult through this area.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Carried by the Gulf Stream, the weeds, plants and other debris mostly drift into Sargasso Sea from Gulf of Mexico and also from the Caribbean, and once there, they remain within the confines of ocean currents. The weeds and plants continue to grow forming a thick layer on the water surface. The first sailors initially feared that their ships would run aground because weeds usually indicate that the shores are nearby and water would be shallow. But the sea here is several miles deep.
There is a calm weather belt within Sargasso Sea where the wind is exceptionally low. It is known that sailing ships have been becalmed and stranded here for months at a time. This belt is known as Horse Lattitude because thirsty horses sometimes broke open and jumped overboard in search of water. And the weak ones were thrown overboard by the crew to conserve water. This later created fears and stories that ghosts of the dead horses haunt this area.
Large number of strange creatures can be seen crawling on the weeds, some having drifted in periodically with debris from the shores and others having born here adapting to life. The endless stretch of yellow-brown-green weeds with strange looking creatures crawling on them was a terrifying sight for the seamen who sailed into Sargasso Sea in later years. The seamen of that time were scared going too far out into the sea and being out of sight from the shores for long. Later in many accounts these creatures had been described as giant squids and even monsters.
And stories started brewing and making rounds that Sargasso Sea is not only a haunted area, the ships get becalmed and stranded due to lack of wind, and the thick weeds that grow from the sides and up the ropes and chains, hold the ships fast preventing them to sink. Seamen die in extreme heat under the scorching sun and slowly a ship becomes a hollow rotted hull with only skeletons manning it.
Many derelicts have been actually found in Sargasso Sea and this was leveraged by the novelists quite rampantly. Some of the authors described the sea area piled with ships one over the other with large amounts of treasure in them. Many floating kingdoms helplessly drifted into this area and disdained all their treasures because that would be of no use any longer.
Columbus's fleet of three ships however could sail on, but only after a lot of initial resentment by the crewmen who demanded to turn back and return. On September 13 Columbus noted that the compass was not pointing towards the North Star and was instead pointing 6 degrees to the north-west, and the difference was increasing as they sailed along. The crew & sailors thought that the laws of nature at this place was different and mysterious, and more mystery might be in store ahead. In order to calm them down, Columbus told them that the compass never pointed to the North Star or the Geographic North Pole, but always to something else.
Columbus was right. It is a common property of the compass that it always points to the magnetic north pole and not to the geographic north pole. These two poles are almost 1,500 miles apart. Depending on the location, this difference can be between few degrees to nearly 180 degrees. There are very few locations on the earth's surface, where this difference is zero (where both poles come on a straight line with the compass) and the compass points to the geographic north pole.
Although Compass Variation
has been a much talked about subject citing it as a cause for Bermuda Triangle disappearances, it is one of the most idiotic ones. Since many years, it is a matter of routine practice for captains of ships and planes to compensate for this variation by adding or subtracting the difference in degrees when determining the right direction to a destination.
Columbus also recorded a large flame of fire dropping on to the ocean. That was likely a meteor.
In the second week of October when the seamen were repeatedly getting frustrated not able to sight the land and day after day all they could see was flying land birds and open sea, Columbus himself noticed some lights one night and wondered if that could be the shore. Not sure what he saw was true, he called another seaman and he too saw the same. But the lights went off thereafter and was never seen again.
Several explanations were suggested on the lights which Columbus saw. Some said that it could be a fisherman's boat with a torchlight, or a man on the shoreline with a flashing light, or a group of luminous fish passing by. But the most acceptable of all explanations is that Columbus and his men were too fatigued and mentally stressed, and perhaps the lights were nothing but an illusion.
It was another matter that 4 hours after the incident, the land finally came in sight and they were able to make the landfall at an island in Bahamas which Columbus named San Salvador
. But the voyage of Columbus and his seamen added an air of mystery to the area now known as Bermuda Triangle.
Role of authors & media
The stories had evolved over time and were perpetuated by various authors and media, and they were often riddled with incomplete and flawed information as well as unscientific theories that were sometimes deliberately crafted in to sensationalize the matter.
The abnormalities on the sea was apparently first noted in 1950 by Edward Jones in the daily newspaper Miami Herald published in Florida where he mentioned this strange area as the center of many mysterious disappearances.
In 1952, the author George Sand wrote an article 'Sea mystery at our back door' in the American magazine Fate
. This magazine's primary content are about the paranormal and metaphysical activities. In his article, George Sand described the Flight-19
incident where the U.S navy airplanes went missing in 1945. He also mentioned about the ship Sandra that disappeared in 1950. This was the first time a paranormal element was introduced to the Bermuda Triangle incidents.
In the whole of 1950s, the stories of Bermuda triangle basically had been spreading by the word of mouth. In 1962, the author Dale M. Titler in his book The Wings of Mystery started introducing concepts like the electromagnetic phenomenon and such. This was the book which actually started to trigger all the discussions and hypothesis about the Bermuda triangle area.
Again in April 1962, Allan W. Eckert wrote an article The Mystery of the Lost Patrol
about Flight-19 disappearance
in the American magazine Legion
. He quoted several interesting dialogues between the Flight-19 leader and the radio tower. On one occasion the Flight-19 leader was heard saying... "We cannot be sure of any direction . . . everything is wrong . . . strange . . . the ocean doesn't look as it should." This sensational article became extremely popular during those days.
It was the writer Vincent H. Gaddis who first coined the name 'Bermuda Triangle' in 1964 when he wrote the article 'The Deadly Bermuda Triangle' for the American pulp magazine Argosy. He mentioned in the article that Fligh-19 and several other disappearances were connected to a strange pattern of events in the region. It won't be out of context to note that the Magazine sometimes promoted itself as "the magazine of masterpiece fiction". Next year in 1965, Gaddis expanded his article and wrote a complete book called The Invisible Horizons.
In 1969, John Spencer stated that the area had no real shape and tried to include the Gulf of Mexico as well as New Jersey as part of the area. It sold in limited quantities, but was later reproduced in paperback in the early 1970s and did well. Dozens of magazine and newspaper articles came out in the early '70s, each author offering a shape and theory to the area. Richard Winer proposed the name The Devil’s Triangle and extended the area close to the Azores near Portugal.
But it was the American writer Charles Berlitz in 1974, who produced one of the all-time best sellers called, The Bermuda Triangle
. HE was a staunch believer of paranormal and claimed to have located the Lost City of Atlantis submerged under the Atlantic ocean and tried to link that with Bermuda Triangle phenomena. He also believed that extraterrestrial visited the earth. Although he connected the incident of Mary Celeste with Bermuda Triangle
, the ship was found abandoned at a place between the Azores and Portugal... thousands of miles away from Bermuda Triangle.
However, the book sold nearly 20 million copies in 30 languages and became a phenomenon by itself. He too noted that there was no real shape of Bermuda Triangle. Charles Berlitz came from a family who created and delivered language instruction courses since generations. And Berlitz himself first came to know about the strangeness of Bermuda Triangle from his travel agency.
In the 1970s and 80s, the entire notion around the mystery of Bermuda Triangle gathered extra-ordinary mass appeal. So much so that many magazines, news papers and TV Documentaries started featuring it. In 1977, Steven Spielberg's film Close encounters of the third kind had even drawn reference to the Flight 19 disappearance and connected that to abduction by aliens.
The book that nailed it
Out of all the books that were published on Bermuda Triangle until 1970s, only one remains in reprint today: Larry Kusche’s The Bermuda Triangle Mystery - Solved that was first published in 1975. And there is a reason for that. Kusche scientifically researched deeply into numerous incidents in Bermuda Triangle. He referred to newspapers and meteorological reports of the times and interacted with many naval officers to get first hand facts.
In his book, through a detailed analysis of his findings, Kusche has pointed out that there is nothing unusual about the incidents... most were caused due to human errors, equipment failure or violent weather, and many incidents were wrongly reported and several did not occur at all. Kusche was convinced that Bermuda Triangle was nothing but a "Manufactured Mystery".
Raj is an avid traveler, a travel journalist and a blogger. As an author of this website, he shares deep insights on Bermuda and related areas of interest. Since years, he has been helping countless viewers by posting quality articles, answering questions and sharing experiences on this website. Launched in 2008, this website is Bermuda's one of the leading sources of information since many years.