Dark Waters: The Most Mysterious Places on the Seas



A shipwreck off the coast of Bermuda, inside the Bermuda triangle. (Image credit: doctorjools | dreamstime)

The Bermuda Triangle is infamous for making sea vessels mysteriously disappear, but it's not the only body of water with dark secrets and seemingly paranormal activity. There are a few other nautical locations where vessels' crews have been known to inexplicably vanish without a trace.

The Bermuda Triangle


(Image credit: NOAA)

The Bermuda Triangle, a region of the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean defined by points in Bermuda, Florida and Puerto Rico, has a long-standing reputation for mysteriously swallowing boats, ships and even airplanes. Some people even claim that it contains a wormhole into another dimension, while others believe that the area is a UFO hotspot and that aliens are abducting the lost sea vessels.

The area first attracted attention in December, 1945, when five United States Navy planes vanished during a training exercise. Before losing radio contact and disappearing somewhere off the coast of southern Florida, the flight leader was reportedly heard saying: "We are entering white water, nothing seems right."

The 14 men in the planes were never heard from again. Even spookier, a search-and-rescue aircraft with 13 men onboard was dispatched to locate the missing planes, but that aircraft and its passengers also inexplicably disappeared. Ever since, the disappearances of vessels in the area, including the SS Marine Sulphur Queen, a tanker carrying a crew of 39 in 1963, and the collier USS Cyclops with 309 crewmen in 1918, have been blamed on the Bermuda Triangle.

The Sargasso Sea


(Image credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

The only "sea" without shores, the Sargasso Sea is a region in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean that is surrounded by ocean currents . These currents deposit marine plants and garbage into the Sargasso Sea, causing it to be full of Sargassum, a genus of dense, brown, invasive seaweed. Because of the seaweed buildup and the isolation created by the currents, the sea remains eerily warm and calm, despite being surrounded by the freezing and choppy waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

This eerie calmness contributes to the area's mystery, as several ships have been found drifting crewless through its peaceful waters. In 1840, the French merchant ship Rosalie sailed through the Sargasso Sea and was later discovered with its sails set but without any crew members on board.

In an effort to explain the mysterious disappearances, nineteenth-century lore told of the Sargasso Sea's carnivorous seaweed, which was believed to devour sailors whole, leaving only the ship.

The "Devil's Sea" of Japan


Japan's Izu Islands, located inside of the Devil's Sea. (Image credit: dreamshot63 | dreamstime)

The Devil's Sea, also known as the Pacific Bermuda Triangle, is a region of the Pacific around Miyake Island, about 60 miles south of Tokyo. The area is also known as the Dragon's Triangle because of ancient legends about dragons that lived off the coast of Japan.

During the late 1980s, author Charles Berlitz wrote the book "The Dragon's Triangle" about paranormal phenomena that he believed occurred in the Devil's Sea. He wrote that after Japan lost five military vessels with carrying a total of more than 700 sailors during the peacetime years between 1952 and '54, the area was officially declared a danger zone. Investigations into Berlitz's claims later found that the military vessels were actually fishing vessels, some of which had vanished outside of the Devil's Sea.

Additionally, investigators pointed out that during the time period that the ships went missing, hundreds of fishing boats were lost around Japan every year due to weather conditions and piracy not because of supernatural activity or mythical sea dragons. But the Devil's Sea's reputation as a dangerous and eerie area lives on.

The Michigan Triangle


(Image credit: Lars Jensen | umich.edu)

The Michigan Triangle is found in Lake Michigan, whose shoreline spans the states of Illinois, Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin. Located over central Lake Michigan, the area has been blamed for the mysterious disappearances of ships' crew members and entire airplanes. Some have reported that while sailing over the Michigan Triangle, time seemed to stand still, slow to a crawl, or speed up.

In 1937, the disappearance of Captain George Donner from his boat cemented the Michigan Triangle's status as a strange place. During a routine coal delivery, Donner gave his crew orders to wake him when the ship drew into port. When they came to his freighter cabin three hours later, Donner had vanished despite the fact that his cabin door was locked from the inside.

In 1950, the Northwest Airlines Flight 2501 disappeared as it flew over the Michigan Triangle on its way from Seattle to New York City. With 58 people on board, the plane seemed to vanish into thin air, and neither the plane nor any passengers were ever found, despite a thorough search by the Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates.

Remy Melina was a staff writer for Live Science from 2010 to 2012. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Communication from Hofstra University where she graduated with honors.