Since I’ve been watching a lot of X-Files lately, I can’t help but think of some bizarre conspiracy theory for this. Perhaps the Iranians were shipping some bizarre disease? Or a strange alien creature? Or something even more dreadful? The Lovecraftian inside of me imagines that these poor pirates are under the spell of some cult priest who is simply trying to kill them with a plague of boils.
Of course, the far more likely explanation is that the Iranian ship was illegally transporting uranium, and the pirates are suffering from radiation sickness. Yarr, gold be valuable matey, but uranium be far more. Yarr.
(Of course, I hold no illusions about modern pirates. They’re pretty scummy people, violent and dangerous criminals, gangs of thugs on the high seas. The pirates of yesteryear weren’t any better; they just didn’t have assault rifles.)