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The Devil's Triangle... Photographed!

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The Devil's Triangle ... Photographed!

Bruce G. Marcot

The Devil's Triangle ... that immense oceanic expanse that lies within the triangle of Bermuda, Miami, and the Bahamas ... has been blamed for the disappearance of more planes and ships than most other spots on Earth.

Theories of this supposed phenomenon have included: mysterious gravitational or magnetic vortices; the release of immense amounts of benthic gases that neutralize buoyancy; bad weather; and exaggeration of the facts.

If there is anything to the mystery, maybe the answer lies in several causes.

One such cause has been attributed to rapidly changing weather conditions, hampering visual flight lines. This theory says that at times atmospheric haze conditions over the ocean in this region can mask the horizon line, making it impossible to discern the ocean from the sky.

... I know this is so because I have seen it.

On March 13th (appropriately), 1991, I flew in a small 4-seater Cessna that arced from Miami airport across the southern fringe of the Devil's Triangle -- also called the Bermuda Triangle -- to the tiny town of San Andros on the mostly uninhabited Andros Island, Bahamas. There was only the pilot, my wife, and myself; I flew in the copilot's seat upfront. During the last third of the flight, which up to that point had been in brilliant sun with spectacular turquoise reefs below, a sudden haze appeared on the horizon. In an instant, we were flying not within clouds but through the oddest haze. I could clearly see the ocean below, but it graded into gray where the horizon should be, and there was no discernable horizon line at all.

Here's an extract from my journal notes of the following day, after we safely landed on Andros Island:

Flying into Andros Island from Miami yesterday was remarkable -- touched the southern edge of the Bermuda [Devil's] Triangle. The horizon was undefined and vague, filled with low-elevation clouds and impossible to delineate. I can imagine how, flying into the triangle with instruments out, one could intercept the ocean without seeing it coming.

At one point, flying east-southeast at 3500 feet altitude, we climbed to 5500 feet to skim over some low cumulus clouds, then dropped back to 3500 feet ... during the easy descent, at a rate of only 500 feet/minute, I could have sworn we were level and flying straight into the (undefined) sea-sky horizon. But we were not.

And here is the actual unretouched photograph I took straight forward, of the horizon line that day out the front of the Cessna windshield ...


... yes, it is all gray with no discernible features. And it was taken when the ocean below was clearly visible.

* * *

The "Devil’s Triangle" was identified on the ancient map Mappa Aestivarum Insularum alias Bermudas dictum, from Amsterdam, by Abraham Goos, ca. 1626 (original map size 60 x 72 cm.):

    “These Ilands formerly called the Bermudas, now the Sommer Ilands, shunned by travelers, as most dangerous, and seldom seen by any, except against their wills,     reputed to be rather a hold and habitation of Devils, then any fit place for men to abide in were discovered in the years 1609.”



                The James Ford Bell Library of Historical Maps


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Image of The Devil's Triangle... Photographed!