The Enigma Of The Dragon’s Triangle

Across two continents and thousands of miles from the Bermuda Triangle, a mythical dragon’s lair exists. Dragons living in underwater palaces were legendary in Chinese history, and this “sea of the devil,” known to the Japanese as Ma-No Umi, has a history dating back to the ancient Chinese dynasties of Sung and Yuan. Kublai Khan, 13th century Mongol ruler, failed in two attempts to capture Japan, when both ships and over 40,000 crewmembers were lost in the treacherous sea. The Japanese too have their own legend, the Utsuro bune of 1803, which tells of a hollow boat containing a woman’s figure of unfamiliar characteristics that washed ashore at the edge of the Triangle. Interestingly enough, their tales of so-called USO’s, Unidentified Submerged Objects, were written long before the sightings of UFOs.

Geographically, both triangles are located at the same east and west 35° latitude, and both exhibit similar magnetic properties. Beginning about 100 miles from Tokyo off the east coast of Japan, the actual perimeters of the Dragon’s Triangle are obscure, as this vast area extends beyond the Bonin Islands down to Guam and west to Taiwan, ranging anywhere from 70 miles to 300 to as far as 750 miles to Iwo Jima.

Incidents in the Dragon’s Triangle also bear a close resemblance to those of its Bermuda counterpart in the Atlantic Ocean. Mysterious disappearances of ships, submarines, and planes have been reported; people speak of seeing strange lights and hearing unfamiliar noises. Erratic radio signals and malfunctioning compasses, as well as huge whirlpools, dense fog, and waves coming from every direction, known as sanaku-namis, add considerable danger to navigation within the Triangle. Ships are swept by strong winds and caught in the swift currents that run above the deep trenches of Ogasawara, Ryukyu, and the Mariana, the largest of these in the ocean floor. Volcanic peaks lie submerged beneath the surface, and small islands that were previously discovered and mapped by experienced explorers seem to vanish into the sea.

The scene of many WWII battles took place in the Triangle, where the Japanese thought naval warfare was relatively safe. However, they suffered considerable losses of aircraft carriers, battleships, and at least 4,000 kamikaze planes in this area. In 1942, 5 warships, 3 destroyers, and 2 more aircraft carriers were lost at sea for no apparent reason. Soviet nuclear submarines were reported missing, and American submarines proved ineffective in these waters, because of the magnetic interference and the strange redirection of their torpedoes. Although mines and aircraft fire may have caused some of these casualties of war, there seem to be no answers to many others.

Even after the war, disappearances of coast guard vessels, fishing boats, and huge super tankers carrying oil, coal, and other supplies remained a mystery, as scant evidence of the crew, wreckage, or even oil slicks was found. Japanese newspapers reported 14 small fishing boats lost from 1949 to 1955 in the Triangle between Miyake Island and Iwo Jima. At the time, the international media were not as interested, preferring to focus their news on the more familiar Bermuda Triangle. Just how many lives and tons of cargo were lost in the Dragon’s Triangle, we may never know, but we do know that more disappearances have occurred here than in the Bermuda Triangle.

Because of these losses, the Triangle was officially named as a danger zone for shipping in 1950 by the Japanese government. Two years later, the Japanese ship, Kaio Maru No 5, embarked on a research project in hopes of solving the mysteries of the Dragon’s Triangle, but the ship with 22 crewmen and 9 scientists inexplicably disappeared. As recently as 1978, a small plane piloted by Frederick Valentich was lost on a flight from Melbourne to King Island somewhere within the Triangle. After the pilot radioed to air traffic controllers that there were 4 strange lights directly above him, his last communication indicated that the object was definitely not a plane. Strange clanging noises were heard briefly, and moments later, Valentich and his plane were gone.

In 1989, Charles Berlitz, a distinguished linguist and author of numerous books on anomalous subjects, wrote “The Dragon’s Triangle,” a fictional account of many of the bizarre circumstances and events that have taken place. He offers a solution to the unsolved mystery of Amelia Earhart, in which she was supposedly directed by the U.S. government to fly over this area and spy on Japanese islands. His idea has merit, as bad weather here is not uncommon, and it adds some credibility to the author’s theory that the bodies of Earhart and Noonan were secretly removed from their graves on Saipan and returned to the U.S. as part of the government’s plan. Although we may not attach much significance to some of the author’s writings, there is substantial scientific information in his book. Volcanic activities below the sea, which create seaquakes and massive tsunamis and bring small islands to the surface, are all real possibilities. Violent storms and unpredictable changes in weather are well known in the Pacific Ocean, and these may account for some of the disasters in the Dragon’s Triangle. In any event, Berlitz’ book does present a realm of possibilities that may pique further interest in the mysteries of our planet, many of which have yet to be discovered or explained.

Some propose that ships and planes were lost in other locations and not reported by radio transmission, but that does not explain the absence of debris or other evidence of disaster on the shore or in the sea. Perhaps, these disappearances can be attributed to the powerful forces of nature, environmental changes, methane gas eruptions, or even the shifting of tectonic plates. Still, much conjecture exists, as many people are fascinated with the supernatural and the unexplained. Eerie tales of silent, phantom “Flying Dutchman” ships drifting aimlessly across the sea only add fuel to the speculation and imagination of an ever-curious public. Of course, there are always those who believe in alien abduction, and they will insist that these occurrences were carefully planned and controlled by UFOs. A few have even suggested that the ships and aircraft disappeared through a black hole into another world, another Atlantis beneath the sea.

Realistically, we know there is no dragon that lives in a “stately pleasure-dome” in the depths of the sea, but fairy tales and fantasies still intrigue many of us. Indeed, no single, logical explanation may exist for such disappearances, but the Dragon’s Triangle is a fascinating mystery that some may choose to explore.

Sharon L. Slayton

Filed Under: Travel mysteries

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