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The area known as the Bermuda Triangle encompasses 2,414,016 sq. km (932,057 sq. miles) of open sea between Bermuda, Puerto Rico, and the southeastern shoreline of the U.S. This bit of the Atlantic is the source of the most famous, and certainly the most baffling, legend associated with Bermuda.

Tales of the mysterious Bermuda Triangle persist, despite attempts by skeptics to dismiss them as fanciful. Below are three of the most popular.

  • In 1881, a British-registered ship, the Ellen Austin, encountered an unnamed vessel in good condition sailing aimlessly without a crew. The captain ordered a handful of his best seamen to board the mysterious vessel and sail it to Newfoundland. A few days later, the ships encountered each other again on the high seas. But to everyone's alarm, the crewmen who had transferred from the Ellen Austin were nowhere to be found -- the ship was completely unmanned.
  • Another tale concerns the disappearance of a merchant ship, the Marine Sulphur Queen, in February 1963. It vanished suddenly without warning, and no one could say why. The weather was calm when the ship set sail from Bermuda, and everything onboard was fine -- the crew never sent a distress signal. In looking for explanations, some have theorized that the ship's weakened hull gave way, causing the vessel to descend quickly to the ocean floor. Others attribute the loss to more mysterious forces.
  • The most famous of all the legends concerns an incident in 1945. On December 5, five U.S. Navy bombers departed from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on a routine mission. The weather was fine; no storm of any kind threatened. A short time into the flight, the leader of the squadron radioed that they were lost, and then the radio went silent. All efforts to establish further communication proved fruitless. A rescue plane was dispatched to search for the squadron -- but it, too, disappeared. The navy ordered a search that lasted 5 days, but there was no evidence of any wreckage. To this day, the disappearance of the squadron and the rescue plane remains a mystery as deep as the waters of the region.

How do those who believe in the Bermuda Triangle legend account for these phenomena? Some contend that the area is a time warp to another universe; others think the waters off Bermuda are the site of the lost kingdom of Atlantis, whose power sources still function deep beneath the surface. Still others believe that laser rays from outer space are perpetually focused on the region, or that underwater signaling devices are guiding invaders from other planets, and that these aliens have chosen the site for the systematic collection of human beings for scientific observation and experimentation. (Smacks of The X Files, doesn't it?) Some, drawing upon the Bible's Book of Revelation, are fully persuaded that the Bermuda Triangle is really one of the gates to Hell (in this version, the other gate lies midway between Japan and the Philippines, in the Devil's Sea).

No matter what your views on these mysteries, you're bound to provoke an excited response by asking residents what they think about it. On Bermuda, almost everyone has an opinion about the island's biggest and most fascinating legend.

Getting Sucked In: The Official Word on the Bermuda Triangle

In response to a flood of concern from travelers about the possibility of getting sucked into the so-called Bermuda Triangle and disappearing forever, the U.S. Board of Geographic Names has issued an official statement: "We do not recognize the Bermuda Triangle as an official name and do not maintain an official file on the area. The 'Bermuda or Devil's Triangle' is an imaginary area located off the southeastern Atlantic coast of the United States, which is noted for a high incidence of unexplained losses of ships, small boats, and aircraft. The apexes of the triangle are generally accepted to be Bermuda, Miami, and San Juan. In the past, extensive but futile Coast Guard searches prompted by search-and-rescue cases such as the disappearances of an entire squadron of TBM Avengers shortly after take-off from Fort Lauderdale, or the traceless sinking of Marine Sulphur Queen in the Florida Straits, have lent credence to the popular belief in the mystery and the supernatural qualities of the Bermuda Triangle."

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