It was a banner year for piracy in 2010, with marauders taking 1,181 hostages, according to the AP. That’s the most prisoners pirates have taken in any year since 1991, when record-keeping began, according to the International Maritime Bureau. But they accomplished the feat while taking only 53 vessels, all but four of which were taken by Somali pirates—that's a big drop from 2009, when the scoundrels attacked 117 ships.
That drop-off was likely due to the gaggle of international warships that now patrol the pirates' favored hunting grounds in the Gulf of Aden, the report concludes. Sixteen other attacks were thwarted when the crew took refuge in specially-fitted “citadel” rooms stocked with two-way communicators, food, and water. But those kind of precautions can’t wipe out the pirate scourge, one expert tells the AP, which also notes that eight of the hostages taken last year died, up from four in 2009. “If you’re going to have a force to fight piracy,” he says, “it’s more sensible to do it on land than at sea.”