It was a 1955 book, The Case for the UFO, by M. K. Jessup that started pointing fingers at alien life forms. After all, no bodies or wreckage had yet been discovered. By 1964, Vincent H. Gaddis—who coined the term “Bermuda Triangle”—wrote an article saying over 1000 lives had been claimed by the area. He also agreed that it was a “pattern of strange events.” The Bermuda Triangle obsession hit its peak in the early 1970s with the publication of several paperback books about the topic, including the bestseller by Charles Berlitz, The Bermuda Triangle.
However, critic Larry Kusche, who published The Bermuda Triangle Mystery: Solved in 1975, argued that other authors had exaggerated their numbers and hadn’t done any proper research. They presented some disappearance cases as “mysteries” when they weren’t mysteries at all, and some reported cases hadn’t even happened within the Bermuda Triangle.
After extensively researching the issue, Kusche concluded that the number of disappearances that occurred within the Bermuda Triangle wasn’t actually greater than in any other similarly trafficked area of the ocean, and that other writers presented misinformation—such as not reporting storms that occurred on the same day as disappearances, and sometimes even making it seem as though the conditions had been calm for the purposes of creating a sensational story. In short: previous Bermuda Triangle authors didn’t do their research and either knowingly or unintentionally “made it up.”
Kusche’s book did such a thorough job of debunking the myth that it effectively ended most of the Bermuda Triangle hype. When authors like Berlitz and others were unable to refute Kusche’s findings, even the most steadfast of believers had difficulty remaining confident in the sensationalized Bermuda Triangle narrative. Nevertheless, many magazine articles, TV shows, and movies have continued to feature the Bermuda Triangle.
Some natural explanations from the Coast Guard to combat some of the “alien” and other fantastical theories attributed the majority of disappearances to the area’s unique features. The Gulf Stream, a warm ocean current flowing from the Gulf of Mexico around the Florida Straits north-eastward toward Europe, is extremely swift and turbulent. It can quickly erase any evidence of a disaster.
The unpredictable Caribbean-Atlantic storms that give birth to waves of great size as well as waterspouts often spell disaster for pilots and mariners. (Not to mention that the area is in “hurricane alley.”) The topography of the ocean floor varies from extensive shoals to some of the deepest marine trenches in the world. With the interaction of strong currents over reefs, the topography is in a constant state of flux and breeds development of new navigational hazards.
Also, not to be underestimated is the human factor: A large number of pleasure boats travel the water between Florida’s Gold Coast (the most densely populated area in the world) and the Bahamas. All too often, these crossings are attempted with small boats, insufficient knowledge of the area’s hazards and lack of good seamanship.
Another mysterious “triangle” is the Michigan Triangle—an area stretching between Michigan and Wisconsin over the centre of Lake Michigan where disappearances have occurred. One disappearance was Captain George R. Donner who supposedly simply vanished from his cabin on the O.S. McFarland as it carted coal to Wisconsin. On April 28, 1937, his second mate went to tell him they were approaching port, but no one could find him anywhere aboard the ship. In another instance, a plane was flying above the triangle and *apparently* just disappeared. Small amounts of debris were found floating in the water, but the rest of the wreckage and bodies of passengers weren’t found. If you guessed that little credence is given to this triangle being an area of unusual activity for similar reasons as the Bermuda Triangle misrepresentations, you’d be correct.
©Moses Richoffor 2016
Moses N. Richoffor studies Communication and Language Arts in the University of Ibadan.
He majors in Public Relations and Advertising.
A silent poet, he believes in the power of the Word to move mountains.
You may reach him through:
08189629362 (Whatsapp and Call)