BBC’s Secrets of the Bermuda Triangle is a documentary miniseries that attempts to separate myths from realities when it comes to this 500,00 square portion of the Atlantic ocean. The Bermuda Triangle, also called Devil’s Triangle, has a dark reputation and legend has it many a ship have mysteriously disappeared in its waters — which is partly true.
The reasons for the disappearance of the vessels vary. Some say sea monsters, other say ghosts from a sunk ship, and probably aliens. It all sounds very thrilling to speculate about these things, but sadly enough the likely reason, as most people who have actually investigated have found, is that it is just that the waters in that area are especially turbulent due to what is called “rogue waves” — unusually large waves that can capsize even ocean liners.
The legend of the Bermuda Triangle, which is bounded by Miami in the US, Puerto Rico in the Caribbean and finally, the Bermuda island, originates mainly thanks to explorer Christopher Columbus. When he sailed through the area on his voyage to the New World, he wrote of a great flame of fire that crashed into the sea one night and that a strange light appeared in the distance a few weeks later. He also reported erratic compass readings.
William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest is also claimed by some scholars to be set on an island in the Bermuda Triangle. The first scene of the play is set on a sea during a tempest, a violent storm with wild winds.
The legend was bolstered by the disappearance of USS Cyclops in 1918, the biggest ship in American Navy that vanished without a trace.
Now, of course, there are reasonable explanations. The flame Columbus saw could be a meteor and the light may also be a celestial object like a comet. The compass readings going haywire might indicate a magnetic anomaly. This is why that stretch of the ocean may be particularly dangerous to ships. And USS Cyclops has been said to be overloaded with Manganese.
Now, most people romanticise things. Rational explanations are boring for them. They will be disappointed if the aliens weren’t involved — perhaps the Na’vi have come to take revenge.
This is basically what this BBC documentary series is about. It has loads of interviews with experts in ships and scholars like people at UK’s Southampton University simulating the rogue waves indoors to see what effects it will have on the ships. Spoiler alert: severe effect.
While it is informative enough, Secrets of the Bermuda Triangle is also pretty drab. The Bermuda Triangle and the stories associated with it are so interesting because of all the tales and myths. We do not get any of that.
Instead, all we get is experts demystifying something that has been demystified long ago. Still, one might find it intriguing if they are either new to the legend or are interested to know about explanations that do not include supernatural phenomena.
Secrets of the Bermuda Triangle will be broadcast in India on August 4 at 9 pm on Sony BBC Earth.