Bermuda Triangle: six conspiracy theories about the mystery

New research suggests rogue waves could be to blame, but there are more fanciful ideas out there

Bermuda Triangle
(Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The mystery of the Bermuda Triangle, a patch of ocean which has supposedly caused the demise of countless ships and planes that have passed through it, has puzzled scientists for years.

The Triangle is an area of the North Atlantic ocean between Bermuda to the north, Puerto Rico to the south and Florida to the west. An average of four planes and 20 boats are said to vanish in the zone every year, leaving no trace behind.

As the Daily Mail says: “From sub-sea pyramids to hexagonal clouds and alien bases, scientists and conspiracy theorist alike have drummed up every imaginable scenario over the years to explain the mysterious disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle.”

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

However, one scientist has suggested a new theory that may solve the mystery once and for all - rogue waves.

Here are six theories behind the science of the Bermuda Triangle:

Rogue waves

According to Channel 5 documentary The Bermuda Triangle Enigma, scientists now believe conditions in that area are just right for “massive rogue waves”, and have used simulators to demonstrate how these could put ships at risk.

“There are storms to the south and north, which come together,” said University of Southampton oceanographer Simon Boxall. “And if there are additional ones from Florida, it can be a potentially deadly formation of rogue waves.”

The Huffington Post reports that rogue waves of this type of wave could reach 100ft tall, which would be on par with the largest wave ever recorded, a “100-foot tsunami triggered by an earthquake and landslide in Alaska’s Lituya Bay in 1958”.

Magnetic forces causing compass malfunctions

The Bermuda triangle is one of two places on earth where compasses point to true north (the geographic North Pole) rather than magnetic north (the shifting magnetic North Pole), says How Stuff Works.

Some theories have suggested that the agonic line, the point where the magnetic and true north are perfectly aligned, passes through Bermuda Triangle, resulting in a magnetic phenomenon which could explain cases where pilots and ship captains claimed their compasses ceased to work properly, causing them to veer off-course.

The problem with this theory is that early 18th century scientists discovered that the agonic line shifts each year. While it did pass through the Bermuda Triangle at one point, it now goes through the Gulf of Mexico instead.

Methane bubbles

A series of huge craters discovered on the seabed around the coast of Norway in 2016 may also give scientists vital information in solving the mystery.

The craters measure up to half-a-mile wide and are 150ft deep, and are believed to have been formed by bubbles of largely methane gas leaking from deposits of oil and gas buried deep in the sea floor. Once these gasses reach a critical mass before bursting to the surface, they can cause large eruptions.


One of the more outlandish conspiracy theories centres around the Bermuda Triangle actually being the location of the mythical Lost City of Atlantis.

The Independent recounts one blog poster who explained: “When Atlantis was destroyed it sank to the very bottom of the ocean.

“While the ruined temples now play host to multitudinous underwater creatures, the great Atlantean fire-crystals that once provided so much of the tremendous power and energy that was found in Atlantis still exist.”


The Sun explains that some writers “have blamed UFOs for the disappearances”, and that they “believe that aliens use the Triangle as a portal to travel to and from our planet”.

“The area is like a gathering station where they capture people, ships and aircraft to conduct research.”

No mystery

Last year Australian scientist Karl Kruszelnicki claimed that the high number of disappearances cannot be explained by aliens or Atlantis, or even by the more plausible theories involving rogue waves.

Instead, he suggests that the “mystery” is nothing more than a perfect mix of human error, bad weather and a high concentration of ships in the area.

“It is close to the Equator, near a wealthy part of the world – America - therefore you have a lot of traffic,” he told The Independent last year.

“According to Lloyd’s of London and the US Coastguard, the number that go missing in the Bermuda Triangle is the same as anywhere in the world on a percentage basis.”

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.