The Bermuda Triangle.

An imaginary area the fleet entered around 1340 UTC today, an infamous zone in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean where ships and planes are said to mysteriously vanish.

Laws of physics, paranormal episodes or extraterrestrial activity? We say it’s time to check what all the fuss is about.

Triangle? What triangle?
Let’s get one thing right. There is nothing official about the Bermuda Triangle. It’s not a registered territory. It’s not delimited in maps. But it’s understood that it stretches from Miami, Florida, to the island of Bermuda to San Juan in Puerto Rico.

If you’re into geometry, have a look at the map below.

© Google Earth

 

So what exactly happened there that freak people out so much?
Only between 1945 and 1965, Wikipedia states that up to five planes crashed in the area, and that 10 ships sank or disappeared from 1800 to 1963.

Other pages or websites reference much, much longer lists.

What’s a rational explanation for this?
* Weather The area is subject to violent and unexpected storms and weather changes. These short but intense storms can build up and dissipate quickly, causing obvious navigational problems.

Topography The underwater topography of the area may also be a factor. It goes from a gently sloping continental shelf to an extremely deep drop-off. Some of the deepest trenches in the world are found in the area of the Bermuda Triangle. Ships or planes that sink into these deep trenches will probably never be found.

Current The Gulf Stream, where the Triangle is located, is extremely swift and turbulent. It’s been reported to move faster than 5 knots in some areas – more than fast enough to throw sailors hundreds of miles off course if they don’t compensate correctly for the current. It can also quickly erase any evidence of a disaster [more on the Gulf Stream in the next days as it will play a role in the end of Leg 6 to Newport].

Compass The Bermuda Triangle is one of only two places on Earth where a compass points to true north rather than magnetic north. If this compass variation or error is not compensated for, ships and planes could find themselves far off course.

Methane gas hydrates  Scientists have discovered the presence of large concentrations of methane gas trapped in the ocean floor. This gas is due to decomposing sea organisms. The sediment contains bacteria that produce methane, which accumulates as super concentrated methane ice, called gas hydrates. The layer of ice traps the methane gas. Within seconds of a methane gas pocket rupturing, the gas surges up and erupts on the surface without warning. If a ship is in the area of the blowout, the water beneath it would suddenly become much less dense. It could sink and sediment could quickly cover it as it settles onto the sea floor.

Other justifications are slightly more…. Far-fetched.
Magnetics Some speak of magnetic vortices, these hot and cold currents that could create the electromagnetic gymnastics affecting instruments and vehicles. Others mention an electronic fog that could block both the visibility and the instruments.

Aliens – The area has one of the highest incidences of UFO sightings and alien abductions have been a popular explanation for the disappearances. But abductions aren’t the only theory; some believe it’s a portal to other planets.

Atlantis – Many theorise that the Triangle is home to the lost city of Atlantis. According to legend and speculation, the city of Atlantis relied on the power of special energy crystals that were extremely powerful. The theory is that these energy crystals are in an altered state of some kind and send out rays of energy that confuse navigation.

Matt Knighton / Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing / Volvo Ocean Race

 

But it could all come down to a fairly simple fact…
The area is one of the most highly trafficked for amateur pilots and sailors, and one of the most heavily traveled shipping lanes in the world. Statistically, more traffic leads to more accidents and disappearances.

In fact, try and ask the sailors about it.
“I think we all find the Bermuda Triangle to be fascinatingly entertaining and nothing more,” wrote Team Alvimedica’s Amory Ross.

“Maybe there is a magnetic variation in this part of the world that plays with a simple compass, but no doubt science can explain it along with any of the outrageous Bermuda Triangle. Planes crash, boats go missing, and UFO reports pour in all over the world.

“There is nothing special about the Bermuda Triangle except the size of the stories it inspires. Myth: busted!”

 

 

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