The Vile Vortices

You’re probably familiar with the Bermuda Triangle, but did you know it has eleven siblings?

According to cryptozoologist and paranormal expert Ivan Sanderson (1911-1973), there are twelve spots on the globe that are areas where ships, planes or people go missing for unexplained reasons.  He called these navigational hazards the Vile Vortices.

Sanderson’s “Bermuda Triangle” is more of a trapezoid, but it’s still the best known spot for mysterious ship and plane disappearances.  Oddly enough, despite its reputation, there are only a handful of actual known disappearances in the triangle.  The most well known is Flight 19, a military training flight.  Fourteen airmen vanished, and the search squadron sent to look for them also vanished, claiming an additional thirteen airmen.  Flight 19 is well known in part because it was featured prominently in Stephen Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Although the Bermuda Triangle is better known in the Western world, the Devil’s Sea (also called the Taiwan Triangle) south of Japan is also a source of missing ships and planes, and appears on Sanderson’s map (upper left corner, difficult to make out).  The Devil’s Sea has long been known to Asian sailors, and according to some reports, shortly after World War II the Japanese fleet lost several ships in the area prompting the government to declare the region unsafe for travel.

Sanderson's actual map, showing additional areas

It would be easy to disregard Sanderson’s maps, but the man wasn’t your usual crackpot.  He worked for the British Naval Intelligence during World War II and traveled extensively as a young man.  He was an early follower of Charles Fort, and established the Ivan T. Sanderson Foundation, which eventually became the Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained (SITU) in 1967.

Others have refined Sanderson’s work, coming up with ten vile vortices instead of twelve.  These they sometimes claim are the “corners of the world”.


The meaning behind the vortices is unknown, and there are as many theories as people who study them.  Sanderson’s interest was more in cryptozoology, a term he himself coined.  However, everything from ley lines to magnetic field fluctuations have been used to explain the seemingly mysterious nature of the various vortices.  Perhaps there is another explanation…


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