Record year for swashbucklers

Almost 300 years after Blackbeard’s unseemly death, pirates are still a problem. A big problem. In the first nine months of this year, there have been at least 198 attacks, versus 174 for the same period last year. But there may be some relief in sight. The New York Times is reporting that international organizations are taking pirate attacks seriously, starting with authorizing troops to hunt them.

Don’t think this is just a problem for giant shipping containers. Tourists may also run into trouble. The two pirate hotspots are the Strait of Malacca in Southeast Asia and off the coast of Somalia in Africa. There’s two well reported and insightful features about pirates in these regions, one from Peter Gwin in the October issue of National Geographic and the other by the renowned writer-explorer Paul Raffaele in the August issue of Smithsonian Magazine.

Luckily you can read both articles online, and you definitely should. Not only do they put the global cruise and marine tourism industries in jeopardy, but pirates have their hands bloody with terrorism and smuggling operations. What we see on the big screen, such as from the Pirates of the Caribbean series (and the pornographic knockoff of that) trivializes what could become a crisis within the decade.

See also: Real Life Pirate Hangouts