Battling Pirates from Landlocked Louisville

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[Photo: Flickr user Earl]

A lot of people have a romantic view of pirates these days, unless fighting the modern-day ones is your full time job, as it is for Jon Huggins, of Littleton. When he thinks of pirates, it’s not eye patches or peg legs that come to mind, it’s victims.

Jon Huggins: We had over 1,000 sea-farers who were held hostage last year.

Reporter: And he says pirates force some of those hostages to work as slaves. Others are used as human shields to protect the pirates against attack.

Huggins: It’s really a terrible situation, and we don’t think that the press has really picked up on this.

Reporter: And so it’s been a bit rough on Huggins recently, as people go ga-ga for pirates.

Johnny Depp: Death lies before us. As we sail to the fountain of youth.

Reporter: The latest "Pirates of the Caribbea" movie is out. Meanwhile, people are flocking to the Real Pirates exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Visitors walk through a replica of an 18th century pirate century ship and meet Black Sam Bellamy.

Bellamy voice: Oy, I’m a free prince. I have as much authority to make war...

Reporter: Curator Mark Levine says the show is a smash-hit and some people really get into it.

Levine: Yeah, every once in a while there are people that are so excited about pirates that they come in full pirate costume of course to really enjoy it to its full extent

Reporter: And although all of this is in good fun -- and there’s even some history to be learned -- Jon Huggins can’t help but feel a little put off. Because in his line of work, news about pirates sounds more like this:

News clip: A scary situation off the coast of East Africa this morning. Somali pirates have struck again, capturing a yacht with four Americans aboard...

Reporter: Huggins and half a dozen others work for a new group called Oceans Beyond Piracy. It’s headquartered in Louisville, southeast of Boulder. And Huggins says overcoming the pirate legend is a big obstacle.

Listen to Ryan Warner's interview with Huggins on Colorado Matters.