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The 7 Pirate Myths Everyone Still Thinks Are True

Disney's "Treasure Island" created a lot of the misconceptions we believe today.

If you missed the chance to celebrate International Talk Like A Pirate Day on September 19, there's another holiday you can hop on instead.

World Maritime Day is September 27.

pirate myths


According to the Coast Guard, the event is dedicated to recognizing the maritime industry's economic contributions, and there's a theme every year that the International Maritime Organization takes very seriously.

In its 70th year of celebration, it's all about reflecting back and looking toward the future of shipping, according to the IMO.

When you look back at the maritime industry's history, you have to talk about pirates. Only everything you think you know about pirates is probably wrong.

So let's set the record straight, aye?

Myth #1: Only men were pirates.

Give it up for the ladies, because they were ruling the high seas too. According to Smithsonian Magazine, they were just left out of all the well-known narratives of pirates, but they were there.

Myth #2: There's a universal pirate accent.

pirate myths


Don't tell fans of International Talk Like A Pirate Day, but there's really no such way to do that.

According to NatGeo, there are no recordings of pirates and no accounts written by pirates themselves to parse out their actual tone.

The widely accepted stereotypical pirate accent filled with sayings like "Arr" and "shiver me timbers" comes mostly from the 1950 Disney movie "Treasure Island," according to NatGeo.

Myth #3: Pirates buried their treasure.

pirate myths


X doesn't mark the spot for most pirates — although this myth is partially true for some.

According to the History Channel, a few accounts of buried pirate treasure exist, but not the way the movies show it. For example, Francis Drake did bury loot in Panama, but he stationed guards there so no one else could find it and came back quickly to dig it up.

History notes that the grand tales of lost buried pirate treasure and secret maps is another myth born from "Treasure Island," which shaped a lot of people's views of what pirates are.

Myth #4: Pirate booty was always gold, jewels and other precious metals.

pirate myths


You know what was actually valuable in the early pirate days? Weapons and medicine, according to ThoughtCo. The outlet also reports that in the early days of piracy, most of the ships attacked were trade ships containing less flashy items like cloth, food and tobacco that they would then sell.

No wonder they weren't burying the stuff.

Myth #5: Pirate enemies walked the plank.

pirate myths


You can blame "Peter Pan" and, you guessed it, "Treasure Island" for this myth, according to NPR.

Walking the plank is actually a tame punishment compared to real pirate punishments. NPR reported that the seafarers enjoyed putting lit matches in enemies' eyes or cutting them up with swords.

Myth #6: Pirates and parrots go together like peas and carrots.

pirate myths


Of all the myths on this list, this one is actually true. According to Atlas Obscura, pirates who visited exotic locations would often come back with parrots.

They reportedly make good sailing pets because they don't eat much, are entertaining for bored sailors and make an impression on people in port cities.

Atlas reported that some pirates may have even traded in parrots, keeping one for themselves after selling the rest at port.

Myth #7: Pirates don't exist anymore.

We may associate pirates with vintage wooden ships and 17th- and 18th-century attire, but pirates are still around even in 2018. And not just digital media pirates — we're talking actual sea-faring pirates who will attack other ships, kill sailors and ransack the vessels.

According to the New York Post, modern-day piracy continues to be a billion dollar business in the 21st century.

And that's a fact.


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