Paul Salopek has a story for National Geographic about the impact of Somali pirates on oceanographic science: “A Hidden Victim of Somali Pirates: Science”. One of the most important scientific projects on the continental shelf off East Africa is drilling for sediment cores to examine ancient climates and volcanism. This helps us to understand the environmental context for early human evolution.
"This problem has been going on a long time and with virtually no public awareness," says Sarah Feakins, a researcher at the University of Southern California whose work on paleoclimates has been hijacked by piracy fears. "All kinds of efforts are made to keep the commercial sea lanes around Somalia open. Nobody talks about the lost science."
The later part of the article describes the loss of routine weather reports from ships, as they choose against broadcasting their locations to eavesdropping pirates.