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Fantasy Island… Bermeja

21 March 2009

Where did Bermeja go?

Although shown on maps since 1669,  the 31 sq. Km. islet of Bermeja, located at 22° 33′ 0″ N, 91° 22′ 0″ W seems to have gone missing.

Why does it matter if an uninhabited island disappears, or if it never existed?  Bermeja lies (or laid?… or was believed to be?) almost directly north of the Yucatan peninsula, about halfway between Campeche and Brownsville, Texas.  Until the 1970s, it was the official landpoint from which Mexico’s 200-nautical mile “economic zone” was determined.

Then…. poof!

The United States Navy reported NOT finding the islet in 1997, although it is mentioned in a 1998 Mexican document.  Satellite photos indicate the seabed is 40 m. deep at that point. Global warming may have raised sea levels, but 31 sq. Kilometers don’t just disappear under 40 meters of water without someone noticing.

The “mystery of the deep” gets murkier.  In 2000, Mexico and the United States signed an agreement to hold off new oil prospecting and drilling in oil reserves in their respective economic zones until 2011.  With Bermeja missing, Mexico’s economic zone — and control of the Hoyos de Dona reserve —  is gone. And the documents relating to Bermeja have — like Bermejaitself — disappeared.

Mexican legislators — especially on the left — are starting to take an interest.  There has been next to nothing in the foreign press, although  AFP had a brief article about the Bermeja mystery in February:


Where'd it go?

“There are two stories about how it disappeared: one is that global warming raised the sea level and it is under water,” said Mexican lawmaker Elias Cardenas, of the Convergence Party.

“The other is that … it was blown up by the CIA so that the United States would get the upper hand in Hoyos de Dona” — the oil reserves area.

Even better for conspiracy theorists, when the treaty defining oil rights in the gulf was being considered, A PAN Senator, the Chairman of the Mexican Senate Foreign Relations Committee, José Angel Conchello Dávila, was dismissed as something of a crank when he became incensed over foreign explorations  in what was then acknowledged as Mexican territory, and began raising objections to the proposed moritorium on drilling.  Then was killed in an unexplained auto accident.

And Bermeja disappeared.  As have documents about both the treaty negotiations, like the islet itself, have sank out of sight.  Although official archives appear to have been destroyed, Bejame has been described on nautical charts as early as 1570. The Biblioteca del Instituto de Geografía at  UNAM, the Sociedad Mexicana de Geografía y Estadística and the Secretaría de Gobernación have historical maps that show Bermeja in Mexican waters.  The Secretarías of Gobernacion, Marina and Comerico all include Bermeja on official maps. Travel Journals Net (based on 1994 CIA data) lists Bermeja as lying in the State of Yucatan.

With an estimated 22.5 billion (thousand million) barrels of oil potentially at stake, Bermeja is more than just a intriguing mystery of the sea.  It’s a multi-trillion dollar buried treasure.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. ... permalink
    21 March 2009 12:38 pm

    Only to point out that the name is Isla Bermeja.

    That WOULD make it hard to find, wouldn’t it?

    Thanks… usually, if I manage to spell something wrong, I only do it once or twice… Oh well, a bone-headed error, but at least a consistently bone-headed one.

  2. 21 March 2009 4:02 pm

    That’s the good sheeyit, RG. A quick play on my calculator. Assuming the following:

    1) previous 31km2 island rose an avg of 10m above sea level and therefore we’ve lost 50m of rock.

    2) The lost rock’s density confirms to the global above ground average of 2.5 metric tonnes per cubic metre

    …it works out at 3.75 Billion (with a B) metric tonnes of rock that has…..errr…. disappeared. This kind of rock movement would make Mount St Helens version 1980 sound like a balloon popping, so we can forget about CIA attacks no matter hat the illuminati hunters might want to believe.

    As for the sea level and global warming theory, last i looked Houston wasn’t looking like Venice, so we should be able to discount that one.

    So Maybe Edmund Seuss would approve of a geosyncline here? Kinda out of fashion now that plate tectonics is all the rage, but it’s possible we’ve had a sagging of the earth’s crust.

  3. 28 May 2010 2:57 pm

    This is silly, and it isn’t rocket science to know what happened here. In 1844, the British did a survey of the area, and reported that Bermeja was about 360 feet under water even then. It existed in 1570 and it existed in 1669, but sometime between 1669 and 1844, it sunk. No one would have been paying attention then, and no one cared after 1844 until now.

    • 28 May 2010 3:08 pm

      Of course, it SHOULD be silly, and would be if there wasn’t all that pesky oil at stake, and somebody, somewhere, somehow, used it as a reference point.

  4. 2 July 2010 8:18 am

    This isn’t a mystery. It sunk prior to 1844. End of story. The British charted the area at the time and reported the island had sunk.

    The Mexicans just didn’t care about the island one way or another until oil issues came to the forefront. Nobody has claimed over the last couple of centuries to have ever actually stepped foot on the island.

  5. Kevin permalink
    29 August 2013 7:05 am

    1812. New Madrid earthquake could have caused a land shift that could possibly sunk the Isle. That falls between 1669 and 1844. There was enough force that it was felt in Washington D C.

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