I Want to Believe: Uncharted Territory

And so Lana returns, NASA’s number one fan, a nomad in love with distant and uncharted places. That’s right, I’m back… I should just make a conspiracy column, right? It’s about time.

My job here is to ponder about the truth, maybe blow your minds, maybe not. However, we have gathered here today not to discuss the inevitable heat death of the universe or the extinction of humanity; rather, we haven’t yet explored (metaphorically speaking, but also literally, I suppose) uncharted territory. Humans have scoured the globe, yet countless regions of our planet remain undiscovered. Why hasn’t the Jersey Devil ever been found? I mean, New Jersey is not that big, but whatever. Does Cthulhu truly dwell in the depths of one of our great oceans? Has the Bermuda Triangle ever been properly mapped? From the Bermuda Triangle to the Devil’s Sea, mysterious stretches of ocean have kept the world in awe for centuries. So, let’s talk.

Uncharted territory is something like a blank slate. We don’t know what’s out there, what is or what once was. All we have are educated guesses and some fanciful theories about buried treasure. There are several regions that are undisturbed by prying human eyes, so without further ado… Well, let’s disturb them. We’ll start with the Bermuda Triangle, the most famous of the bunch.

Aliens. Warp holes. Time travel. When it comes to the Triangle, we’ve heard it all. I’m not promising the truth, but we can wonder about it, right? Littered with countless reports of unexplained disappearances, the Bermuda Triangle has captured international attention since the early 20th century.

For those of you who do not know, the Bermuda Triangle is a section of the Atlantic Ocean within which dozens of planes and ships have disappeared. The Triangle is roughly bounded by Miami, Bermuda, and Puerto Rico and it was largely unknown until it made waves (no pun intended) in the news industry following the tragedy of the USS Cyclops. Let’s go back in time, shall we?

The Cyclops was a 542-foot-long Navy cargo ship that carried over 300 men and 10,000 tons of manganese ore (manganese is a chemical element used during refinement of iron ore and as an alloy in the final product). In March 1918, it sank somewhere between Barbados and the Chesapeake Bay. Despite being equipped to send out a distress call, The Cyclops never did, and an extensive search found no wreckage.

Only God and the sea know what happened to the great ship.

-U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, in regards to the mystery.

Decades later, in 1941, two of the Cyclops’ sister ships vanished along nearly the same route. From there, the enigma only grew.

Now, we go back in time a little further. As we all know, Christopher Columbus sailed through the area as he searched for the New World (ignoring his credited “discovery of America”). During his voyage, he reported that “a great flame of fire (a comet, most likely) crashed into the sea one night and that a strange light appeared in the distance a few weeks later.” He also recorded “erratic compass readings,” though according to History.com, this is perhaps because “at that time, a sliver of the Bermuda Triangle was one of the few places on Earth where true north and magnetic north lined up.” Regardless, remember this meteor theory, for later.

Anyway, in the years following the disappearances of the Cyclops and her sister ships, a myriad of extravagant theories have popped up… Although in truth, the expanse of the so-called “Devil’s Triangle” is traversed without incident every day. What holds the public’s fancy, however, are the unexplained circumstances surrounding the vessels that do go missing. Big ships, little boats, gone without a trace. There are tales in which U.S. Navy pilots became disoriented while flying over the area, although to me, that sounds pretty vague. I don’t know what kind of “disorientation” said pilots faced, but it must’ve been something akin to alien abduction, because the aircraft were never found. The vanishing vessels have disappeared in good weather without even radioing SOS signals.

“Oh noes,” is correct, my stick figure hero. Nobody knows exactly what happens to those who fall victim to the Bermuda Triangle, but that’s where the sense of intrigue comes from. You’re probably wondering, “Okay, Lana. We get it.” So, where does that leave us? Why does uncharted territory matter?

Ah, impatient reader, I’ll tell you why: because it’s cool.

Don’t you have a sense of wonder? Aren’t you curious to see what’s out there, or in terms of the Bermuda Triangle, what’s down there? I’m not saying we’re out here trying to solve every single disappearing aircraft case, nor every vanishing ship, but this is where things start to get interesting. I now have the grand opportunity to share with you…

** resounding applause **

But really, there are plenty of wild theories out there about what happens in the waters between Miami, Bermuda and Puerto Rico. The real reasons behind why the Devil’s Triangle is so danger-prone may never be known, but we can surely speculate.

Some believe that the Bermuda Triangle is actually home to inter-dimensional portals. This goes hand-in-hand with the concept that it also houses time portals, through which one may travel through time— that is, if they survive the journey. This would explain the lack of found wreckage of missing vessels, although it’s pretty broad and cannot be easily supported, for obvious reasons.

Others strongly insist that the reason why the Devil’s Triangle is so dangerous is because of the presence of an ancient meteor. Remember Christopher Columbus’ account? Theorists suggest that the meteor crashed in the sea, and now lies in a trench so deep that modern technology cannot detect it. The theory states that the meteor’s “extraterrestrial nature,” doesn’t cooperate with navigational equipment, thus the endless disappearances and lack of distress signals in kind.

And then there are lesser-known theories, such as “Atlantis lies at the bottom of the Triangle,” (we always come back to the Lost City, don’t we?) and that Atlantis’ so-called “crystal pyramid” lies within the Triangle and is responsible for collecting cosmic rays. Hardcore theorists use this as an excuse as to why distress signals and other radioed messages are never heard. ~Pyramid Interference~ or whatever that means, it’s definitely unsettling.

I’d advise you take these ideas with a grain of salt, because sometimes people go off their rocker, to say the least. Although I may write many articles pertaining to conspiracies, even I will admit that such theorists are extreme. Besides, why be so extreme? Who’s to say it’s not just the ever-popular “aliens” theory?

Aliens or not, ever heard of the “vile vortices?” It’s relevant, I promise. The definition of a vile vortex, because I had to Google it since I wasn’t sure: “a vile vortex is any of twelve purported particular geographic areas, arranged in a pattern around the Earth.” Such vortices are cataloged as sites of unexplained phenomena. Often, these anomalies are attributed to electromagnetic deviations. Biologist and writer Ivan Sanderson hypothesized “that hot and cold currents crossing these vortices might create electromagnetic disturbances affecting instruments and vessels, in turn causing ships’ disappearances.”

That said, there’s more to uncharted territory than just the Devil’s Triangle. It can’t all be due to vile vortices, right? I know, I’ve gone on and on about the Bermuda Triangle, but there are more mysterious secrets that still belong to the sea.

I’ll try to keep it short, because one can only handle so many theories at once. Even so…

Down the block and around the corner from the Bermuda Triangle, you’ll find the Sargasso Sea. Described as “eerily calm,” by CNN writer George Webster, the Sargasso Sea stretches far into the Atlantic Ocean. The water of the Sargasso is warm and cluttered with clumps of sargassum (that nasty brown seaweed that floats in large masses) despite sitting smack in the middle of the otherwise freezing Atlantic.

I’m sorry in advance for this picture, because maybe it’s just me, but it grosses me out.

Sargassum, Photo Credit

What makes the Sargasso intriguing? Well, the area has a reputation. Boats that have the misfortune of sailing the Sargasso are often left devoid of their crew, “leaving nothing but empty, wandering vessels.”

One of such ships was the “Rosalie.” A tall-mast ship, it sailed the area in 1840, but was eventually found drifting with her sails strung and no crew on board.

However, the mystery of the Sargasso has become far less mysterious, as the “sea within a sea,” (as it is known) is surrounded by some of the strongest surface-water currents in the world, and as a result, isolates it from the rest of the Atlantic.

A diagram, for those of you who are like me and learn better with a visual.

The temperature comes from this isolation, causing sailboats (they are wind-powered, after all) to come to a standstill. The disappearing crews, though? Who knows?

Next up is the Devil’s Sea. Also known as the “Dragon’s Triangle,” the sea is a span of the Pacific ocean. Its approximate location is near the Japanese island of Miyake, about 100 kilometers south of Tokyo. It got its nickname from ancient legends of dragons that lived off the coast. Author Charles Berlitz wrote about the disappearance of 100 scientists studying the region, as well as five Japanese military vessels between 1952 and 1954.

I don’t have an explanation for this one, but it always comes back to vile vortices. Whatever it is, it’s creepy, right?

Lastly, the mystery of Lake Michigan. Countless strange objects and so-called “phantom planes” have been sighted; yay, aliens! My favorite.

Marine historian Dwight Bower wrote a book called “Strange Adventures of the Great Lakes.” According to Bower, the legend of the Michigan Triangle was born in 1937, after the disappearance of Captain George R. Donner. Supposedly, Donner instructed his crew to wake him as the freighter drew into port. It was nothing but a routine coal delivery, but three hours later, Donner had disappeared. His cabin door was locked from the inside. Cue the shivers up and down your spine.

Then of course, a follow-up story: nearly 13 years after the disappearance of Donner, Northwest Airlines Flight 2501 left New York City for Minneapolis. As it flew over the Michigan Triangle, it vanished into thin air— or so it seemed. The wreckage has never been found, although investigations to attempt to explain the incident are still conducted.

Mystery after mystery, disappearance after disappearance. We may never know what happened to these unfortunate folk, but if anything, they certainly fuel our desire to discover the truth. I mean, as the U.S. Coast Guard said, in regards to the Triangle specifically, “No extraordinary factors [referring to Bermuda Triangle-induced casualties] have ever been identified.” Be that as it may, have we gathered enough proof to refute “extraordinary factors?” Together, we can keep searching. It’s possible that the mysteries of the Triangle and uncharted regions were caused by events that were nothing but natural.

…Or were they?

.    .    .

References, because ya girl did her research:

History.com Staff. “Bermuda Triangle.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, 2010. Web. 22 Jan. 2017.

Webster, George. “Mysterious Waters: From the Bermuda Triangle to the Devil’s Sea.” CNN. Cable News Network, 31 May 2011. Web. 22 Jan. 2017.

Warner, Claire. “These Bermuda Triangle Conspiracy Theories Will Absolutely Unsettle You.” Bustle. Bustle, 02 Nov. 2016. Web. 22 Jan. 2017.

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