Where Is the Bermuda Triangle?
On a beautiful sunny afternoon in 1945, five airplanes took off from a runway in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The planes were US Navy bombers, but they weren’t going to drop bombs. They were just out on a training run. The pilots were supposed to fly east, over the ocean, and then go north for a while before heading back home. The whole flight was supposed to last only two hours. The trip was called Flight 19.
But somehow, the pilots got lost and confused. They didn’t know which way to go. The officer in charge had two compasses to show him directions. But both
stopped working. He tried to contact the control tower for help, but his radio wasn’t working well. Then another pilot flying nearby heard they were lost. He offered to come help, but the officer told him not
Before the day was over, all five planes had disappeared without a trace! The navy quickly sent another plane out to search for them—and it vanished, too!
How could this possibly happen? How could six planes and twenty-seven men vanish into thin air, never having sent an emergency signal? All the planes had life rafts on board. If the pilots had to land their planes in the ocean, wouldn’t at least some of the pilots have survived?
For weeks, the navy searched a wide area of the sea. They never found a single thing—not even a piece of a broken plane floating in the water. Even now, more than seventy years later, the story makes people wonder whether there is something strange and unusual about the area the planes were flying through.
In fact, it is just one of the stories about the Bermuda Triangle—the name given to a triangular area in the ocean, off the coast of Florida, where dozens of ships and planes have disappeared.
Some stories say the Bermuda Triangle sucks ships into the sea. Others say that planes can enter the Bermuda Triangle but never escape. Over the years, ships have been found floating in the water—abandoned ships in perfect condition, with food still cooking on the stove, but no people on board! Huge oceangoing ships have been said to break in half in the treacherous seas. One year, at Christmastime, two men went out on a boat only a mile from the Florida coast. They wanted to gaze at the Christmas lights back on shore. They hit something in the water and called the Coast Guard for help. But when the Coast Guard arrived twenty minutes later, they had vanished. They were never seen or heard from again. To add to the spookiness of this story, their boat was called the Witchcraft
This is the story of the mysterious area known as the Bermuda Triangle—who vanished, how they disappeared, and why. Chapter 1: The Deadly Triangle
Where, exactly, is the dangerous area of water that—according to stories—has been the cause of so much tragedy? Draw three lines on a map connecting Bermuda, Puerto Rico, and Miami, Florida. The lines will make a triangle in the ocean. That’s the location of the Bermuda Triangle.
The ocean is unusually deep in the Bermuda Triangle. It’s three miles deep in many places and over five miles deep in one spot. Hundreds of different species of small sea creatures live miles below the surface.
The first person ever known to sail near the Bermuda Triangle was Christopher Columbus. In 1492, he sailed west from Spain, hoping to find a new route to Asia. Instead, he wound up on an island off the coast of Florida—an island called San Salvador, that’s now part of the Bahamas.
But before he reached the Bahamas, Columbus experienced something very strange aboard his ship, the Santa Maria
. He sailed into a vast area where the ocean was covered with a thick carpet of weeds. The huge mat of weeds was rotating clockwise. It was like a slow-moving whirlpool. Creatures crawled all over the weeds—turtles, crabs, and eels. The air was strangely still.
Columbus thought he must be near land. Why else would there be so many plants growing on the water? Plants didn’t grow in the middle of the ocean—only near shore. But for days and days, he couldn’t find land. The crew was alarmed. They wanted Columbus to turn back and sail home to Spain. Then something else happened to frighten the crew even more. Columbus’s compass wasn’t pointing toward the North Star, the way it usually did. Why wasn’t it working? What was happening in this strange part of the ocean?
Columbus didn’t know it, but he had sailed into what’s now called the Sargasso Sea—a huge area of the Atlantic Ocean. It overlaps about half of the Bermuda Triangle.
For hundreds of years after that, sailors passing through these waters told tales about the Sargasso Sea. They called it the “graveyard of ships” or the “sea of doom.” According to the stories, ships could sail into it, but often they couldn’t escape. Ghost ships supposedly sailed there forever, with skeletons on board as crews.
Columbus’s crew was terrified when they heard about his compass pointing the “wrong” way. They were afraid that they’d never find land. But Columbus calmed them down. He said that maybe his compass wasn’t supposed to point to the North Star. Maybe it was supposed to point to something else, although he didn’t know what. Was he right? Years later, scientists learned more about how compasses work and found out that Columbus was
None of the stories about the Bermuda Triangle existed in Columbus’s time. If they had, the crew would have been even more frightened on their voyage. Luckily for them, the wind picked up in the Sargasso Sea and less than a month later, Columbus found land.
Many other ships that sailed into the waters of the Bermuda Triangle were not nearly so fortunate.
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