We all have to respect the ocean; not just because it is the foundation of many forms of life, but because this massive body of water can also be quite ruthless when it comes to claiming lives. Many of us know better than to underestimate how many human lives could be lost in an ocean-related tragedy, and needless to say, mankind has had too many of them. Thousands of years of maritime history can attest to the harsh realities that humans have had to face when navigating through Earth’s “final frontier.”
While the vast expanse of the Ocean promises treasures just as much as it forbodes tragedies, certain parts of the planet's hydrosphere pose deadlier dangers to those who dare pass through their waters compared to other sea and ocean regions. And one of those most dangerous stretches of water which is shrouded in curious mystery can be found in the gigantic Pacific Ocean. This region of the Pacific goes by many names. Aside from “The Dragon’s Triangle,” it is also referred to as the “Devil’s Sea,” “Formosa or Taiwan Triangle,” and the “Pacific Bermuda Triangle.”
The name “Dragon’s Triangle” can be traced back to old Chinese fables which originated from around 1000 BCE. These tales spoke of dragons that lived underwater and, from time to time, capsized and sank naval vessels along with the seamen aboard them for these mythical creatures’ consumption and to satisfy their hunger.
On the other hand, the oceanic area’s name the “Devil’s Sea” or “Ma-No Umi” in Japanese was actually coined by the natives of Japan a long time ago because of the local legends that speak of the area’s notoriety in subduing and consuming even the strongest and the most buoyant of ships, and for being the home of terrifying sea monsters that drowned people to death.
The “Dragon’s Triangle” is located in the region of the Pacific Ocean near the Japanese volcanic island of Miyake, which is just around 100 kilometers south of Japan’s capital, Tokyo. It is a triangle-shaped danger zone found between the coast of Japan and the Islands of Bonin, and it covers a large part of the Philippine Sea. Although this region is well-known by Japanese fishers, the Devil’s Sea is still not officially labeled on nautical maps, and reports on its size and the area it occupies have provided conflicting estimations that has yet to be reconciled conclusively.
From the names referring to this part of the Pacific, we can already tell that there is something dangerous about this oceanic area. The reason why people regard the Dragon’s Triangle as a deadly enigma is because of reports of its unpredictable and sometimes violent weather. There are also claims of random and unexplained occurrences of ocean phenomena such as maelstroms, ocean swells, and rogue waves. Another interesting reason is the alleged disappearances of several maritime vessels and aircraft along with many other strange events in the region.
Because of the perils, it poses to the vessels and the seafaring individuals that pass through it, the Dragon’s Triangle has gained significant notoriety that Japanese authorities went so far as to brand it as hazardous for marine travel and expeditions.
What is also fascinating about the Dragon’s Triangle that makes it worthy of discussion is that it is one of the 12 Vile Vortices that exist today. Paranormal expert Ivan Sanderson coined the term “vile vortex” in his 1972 article titled “The 12 Devil’s Graveyards Around the World.” A vile vortex is an area found in different parts of the world, where the pull of Earth’s electromagnetic waves is thought to be at its strongest. Five of these vortices are situated on the same latitude below the equator, while five of them are on the same latitude above the equator. The remaining two vortices are the north and south poles of the planet. These 12 areas are said to be prime sites of magnetic anomalies, unexplained disappearances as well as other bizarre phenomena.
The Dragon’s Triangle, in particular, is located above the equator and is aligned opposite to where its Atlantic counterpart – the Bermuda Triangle – is situated. And just like the Devil’s Sea, this region in the western portion of the North Atlantic Ocean is also notorious for being the subject of similar cases of mysterious disappearances and paranormal phenomena.
Legends, Stories, and Strange Incidents in the “Dragon’s Triangle
There are many legends, stories and cases of mysterious disappearances of boats, ships, and aircraft as well as other strange incidents in the Dragon’s Triangle that we know of today.
One popular tale supposedly took place back in the 1200s. According to this story, Emperor Kublai Khan of the Yuan Dynasty attempted to conquer Japan twice by crossing the Devil’s Sea. Both efforts to take over the country did not succeed, and they resulted in the loss of the Yuan emperor’s sea-faring vessels, as well as the demise of more than 40,000 crewmen of these ships in the initial attempt alone.
There is a famous Japanese legend dating back to 1803 that talks about another eerie incident in the Dragon’s Triangle. This Japanese Utsuro-Bune legend involves a hollow boat that’s shaped like a box and resembles an incense burner or “kou-hako.” Inside this boat was a foreign-looking female who bore unique physical features. Fishermen who found her brought the woman inland to investigate her, but she did not know how to communicate in Japanese. This has led for some people to speculate that this particular story is an actual case of a close encounter with an extraterrestrial or interdimensional being.
Modern linguist and author Charles Berlitz, in his 1989 book “The Dragon’s Triangle,” made a sweeping declaration that there were a lot of fishing boats, tankers, Japanese and American warships and aircraft, and Soviet submarines that had fallen prey to the harsh waters and weather conditions of the Devil’s Sea. In fact, there are even much-wilder speculations that link the Dragon’s Triangle to the world-famous disappearance of the renowned female pilot Amelia Earhart.
Another popular case of a ship’s disappearance in the Devil’s Sea is that of the Kaio Maru No. 5 back in 1952. The Kaio Maru No. 5 was a research vessel of the Japanese government that investigated the undersea activities of the region. The ship supposedly disappeared in the Dragon’s Triangle along with its crew of 31 people who were never seen or heard from again.
Explanations on the Strange Mystery of the Dragon’s Triangle
As is usually the case with most mysterious phenomena, many theories have been put forward which took a crack at explaining the strange stories and incidents that have taken place within the danger zones of the Devil’s Sea. Some of the explanations are more scientific and rational, but there are also those who fit the realm of the supernatural, paranormal, and speculative science.
There are those who believe that the Dragon’s Triangle could be housing a secret or hidden doorway or a black hole that leads to another dimension or a parallel universe. Some also connect the oceanic region with the lost city of Atlantis, while others have raised the possibility that extraterrestrials have something to do with the sudden and unexplained disappearance of many vessels and sea-faring individuals that passed by the area.
Of course, rational and natural explanations have also been presented to put the questions surrounding the controversial and strange mystery behind the Dragon’s Triangle to rest. For one, deep-sea fishing has always been a dangerous line of work, which is why it should not come as a surprise that many fishing boats have sunk in the region of the Devil’s Sea and other surrounding seas and oceans near Japan. Some even say that the number of incidents of fishing boats that sank in the Dragon’s Triangle is no higher than the average, and so, there could be no big mystery after all.
Another explanation for the disappearance of the boats and ships in the area could be the vast field of methane hydrates that lies at the bottom of the ocean within the zone of the Devil’s Sea. According to this theory, methane hydrates – or ice-like deposits that detach from the bottom of the ocean floor – turn into the gaseous form of methane clathrates which, in turn, produce bubbles on the water’s surface. When methane clathrates surpass the temperature of 18 °C (64 °F), they result to gas eruptions that mess with buoyancy and consequently leave ships vulnerable to sinking easily.
Some of the other natural explanations related to the disappearance of various vessels and people in the Dragon’s Triangle have something to do with undersea volcanic activities, the movement of tectonic plates, as well as agonic lines and magnetic anomalies.
The scientific and natural explanations mentioned above should have been sufficient enough for everyone to tear off the shroud of mystery and inexplicability surrounding the Dragon’s Triangle. Even then, many still prefer to believe in more unconventional theories of the paranormal. But regardless of whether or not you choose to believe the scientific or the supernatural explanation, it cannot be denied that the Dragon’s Triangle or the Devil’s Sea is among the world’s most compelling mysteries about the oceans and high seas and that much of it remains to be thoroughly understood.
And so, for those who might find themselves cruising somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, perhaps it would be in your best interest for the time being that you steer clear of this region.