British oceanographers have concluded a decades-long investigation into the Bermuda Triangle and finally determined what is behind the hundreds of mysterious disappearances in the region.
The mysterious 700,000sqm triangle, stretching between the tip of Florida, Puerto Rico, and Bermuda, and has been the centre of public fascination for over 100 years when reports first started emerging of an unusual amount of shipwrecks in the region. The New York Times claimed at least 50 ships, 20 aircraft, and more than 1,000 people have succumbed to the Triangle over the past 500 years.
Now, researchers from the University of Southampton say ships are being sucked into the ocean by “rogue waves” over 30 meters (100ft) in height and explained their theory on the Channel 5 documentary The Bermuda Triangle Enigma.
“There are storms to the South and North, which come together… we’ve measured waves in excess of 30 metres. The bigger the boat gets, the more damage is done,” Dr Simon Boxall, an oceanographer who led the study, told The Sun.
While many theories to explain the disappearances have been floated about over the years, scientists first zeroed in on the freak wave hypothesis when a 18.5-meter rogue wave was measured in the North Sea by satellites in 1995.
Rogue waves occur when an abnormally large wave crashes in the open sea. Normal waves of around 12 meters have a breaking pressure of 8.5 psi (pounds per square inch). Modern ships are designed to tolerate about 21 psi, but rogue waves can have a crushing pressure of up to 140 psi – enough to topple even the sturdiest of ships.
For the documentary, Dr Boxall and his team re-created the mammoth waves using indoor simulators and built a model of the USS Cyclops to see what effect it would have on the large ship. The Cyclops went missing in the triangle in 1918 with 309 people on board.
“If you can imagine rogue waves with peaks at either end, there’s nothing below the boat, so it snaps in two. If it happens, it can sink in two to three minutes,” said Boxall.
The most recent disappearance was just last year when a plane carrying four people went missing over the infamous triangle. The group had spent Mother’s Day in Puerto Rico and were flying back to Florida when their twin-prop plane vanished from radar. The search was eventually called off and no bodies were ever found.