From San Juan it is about 1,200
miles back up to Bermuda, closing off the triangle. You might think that the
barren waters of the Triangle are just boring sea, vast, tempestuous, and
seldom viewed by man, being a deep blue with white caps and foam.
Quite the contrary! The heart of the Bermuda Triangle is covered by the
strangest and most notorious sea on the planet— the Sargasso Sea; so named
because there is a kind of seaweed which lazily floats over its entire
expanse called sargassum. Catching sight of these huge mats of seaweed have
always marked the perimeter of this peculiar sea.
Columbus himself made note
of it. Thinking land was nearby, he fathomed the sea, only to find no
bottom. The bottom is, in fact, miles below on the Nares Abyssal Plain.
Sargasso Sea occupies that part of the Atlantic between 20║ to 35║ North
Latitude and 30║ to 70║ West Longitude. It is in complete contrast to the
ocean around it. Its currents are largely immobile yet surrounded by some of
the strongest currents in the world: The Florida, Gulf Stream, Canary, North
Equatorial, Antilles, and Caribbean currents.
These interlock to separate
this sea from the rest of the tempestuous Atlantic, making its indigenous
currents largely entropious. Therefore anything that drifts onto any of its
surrounding currents eventually ends up in the Sargasso Sea amidst its
expansive weed mats of sargassum. Because of the entropious currents, it is
unlikely anything would ever drift out. The Sargasso Sea rotates slightly
itself and even changes position as its surrounding currents change with
weather and temperature patterns during different seasons.
Scientists have discarded their first thought that the strong Gulf Stream
carried and deposited shoreline seaweed into this large sea. Recent
investigations have concluded that the sargassum is actually adapted and has
reproduced to become native to the area, a strange forest of seaweed growing
hundreds of miles from any land.
Legends of a “sea of lost ships” predates the Bermuda Triangle by centuries
and was, in many ways, strikingly similar to the mythos of the modern
Bermuda Triangle. Derelict vessels were found here more often, shipshape but
deserted. On one occasion a slaver was sighted with nothing but skeletons
The Rosalie sailed through this area in 1840 before later turning up
derelict, as reported in the London Times. In 1881 the schooner Ellen Austin
supposedly found a derelict schooner and, placing a prize crew aboard,
sailed in tandem for port. Two days later the schooner was sighted sailing
erratically. When boarded again, the ship was once again deserted. There was
no trace of the prize crew.
The bark James B. Chester was found deserted in the Sargasso Sea in 1857,
with chairs kicked over and a stale meal on the mess table. Modern derelicts
have included the Connemara IV, found drifting 140 miles from
1955, plus a number of yachts and sailboats found in 1969 and 1982.
The Sargasso Sea, like the Bermuda Triangle, received popular and often
tabloid press. Paintings showed sailing vessels being devoured by the sargassum, and, at the turn of the century, readers were led to believe that
freighters sat becalmed and weed shrouded with old sailing ships— even Roman
triremes, for nothing ever changed in this stagnant sea.
Most older maps
delineate the location of the Sargasso Sea with seaweed. An
evaluation of ship and aircraft disappearances draws a striking
connection with this ancient sea of mystery and the modern
Bermuda Triangle: the northern boundary of the Sargasso Sea more
correctly represents the northern limits of the area of
disappearances, for many aircraft and ships were in this
vicinity when they vanished– i.e. a few hundred miles north of
Bermuda but just entering the Sargasso Sea. The s.s. Poet,
520-feet, bound for Gibraltar in 1980, a
on maneuvers in 1961,
in 1962, a
in 1954, a
Navy Martin Marlin
amphibian in 1956 are but a few examples. The “Seaweed Sea” has
a centuries old rep. for mysterious disappearances.
Note also how the
map implies the seaweed is coming out of the Gulf with the Gulf
Stream currents, a passÚ theory: the sargassum is actually now
believed to be adapted and native to this strange sea, with very
little of its cousins actually coasting in from the surrounding
Some of the above, though
exaggerated, was based on fact. For centuries the Sargasso Sea was dreaded
by the seafaring because of its deadly calms. Many times the Spanish found
themselves becalmed for weeks, being then forced to jettison their war
horses in order to conserve water. Hence the area known as the “Horse
Latitudes” traverse the Sargasso Sea. Another name would be the “Doldrums.”
The sargassum could even contribute to stalling a vessel during these long
periods of weak winds. And today props on smaller boats can be fouled by the
weed mats, causing them go dead in the middle of nowhere.
These monotonous calms are no doubt thanks to the surrounding Gulf Stream
currents which isolate the Sargasso Sea from the surrounding hostile and
cold waters of the North Atlantic. The Sargasso Sea remains a warm sea by
contrast, with high evaporation and low precipitation favorable to a more
steady climate and hence weaker winds.
The “Sea of Lost Ships” has not been solved in modern times; it has only
expanded to the skies above. And the mystery of missing aircraft seem even
greater since neither calms nor sargassum can effect them. Nor can it affect
the large freighters that can easily plow through the sargassum and steam
through calms with little effort. Regardless, a number of large cargo
vessels are completely unaccounted for after entering this sea.
When adding the reputation of the Sargasso Sea to that of the modern
Triangle, the enigma of this sea excites one with its tenacious and
centuries old grasp on mystery. If the sargassum and the stagnant calms
cannot effect modern travel and yet aircraft and ships disappear alike —and
for the same reason— then the mystery is not one of the sea but of the
planet itself, its shape, mass and the area’s juxtaposition on this very
mysterious sphere we live on.
The Sargasso Sea must remain an enigma of this globe, for the forces that
have created it have created a masterpiece of visible nonconformity, which
may only be the tip of the iceberg for invisible disharmony in its elements.
Currents alone cannot explain it. There are many seas in our great oceans
which are interlocked by currents. Indeed, all currents are circuitous.
There are the South Pacific and Mentor Currents that circle around and hold
in the South Pacific, or there are the Brazil and Benguela Currents in the
South Atlantic. Though they are thoroughly charted and frequently traveled
besides, neither are particularly mysterious nor have they indigenous growth
so thick and unaccounted for.
The Sargasso Sea calls to mind the greater mystery of shape and mass of our
planet, with the resultant anomalies of wind and sea. Perhaps the missing in
the Bermuda Triangle provide the same clue about the invisible force fields
of our planet, for they are a disconformity with what we consider to be the
laws of probability. It seems more than coincidental that the one place on
earth where nature remains a mystery should also be a place where travel
remains an equal mystery.
The conundrum of missing ships and planes may be
no greater than the very conundrum of the place in which they so utterly