NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Dry-bulk shipping is a volatile business. Its cycles are vicious, even in normal times.

These, however, are not normal times, and the mariners that haul the world's raw materials hither and yon across the high seas face a slew of challenges, from Chinese demand for iron ore to the supply of new vessels set to come into service in the coming months and years.

In our most recent poll, we asked readers of TheStreet to weigh in on which dry-bulker's stock they considered the riskiest play in the industry (out of a group five companies).

The results, so far, are interesting: Perhaps holding to the ancient precepts of risk-reward, voters chose DryShips ( DRYS) as the riskiest stock -- and it wasn't even close, with the company garnering 45% of the clicks.

This follows an earlier survey by the TheStreet that showed that readers believe DryShips to be the hottest stock in the sector. It's also not exactly a shock, since DryShips' chief George Economou is known as a gambler -- though the evidence suggests that has gone a bit conservative with his chartering strategy.

In fact, DryShips has come out on top on all three of our dry-bulk polls; our previous survey asked readers to weigh in on which shipper had the savviest chartering strategy.

Second place in our riskiest poll goes to New York's own Eagle Bulk Shipping ( EGLE), taking 17.4% of the votes. Next were FreeSeas ( FREE) (15.7%), Excel Maritime ( EXM) (12.5%) and Paragon ( symbol) (nearly 12%).

-- Written by Scott Eden in New York

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Scott Eden has covered business -- both large and small -- for more than a decade. Prior to joining TheStreet.com, he worked as a features reporter for Dealmaker and Trader Monthly magazines. Before that, he wrote for the Chicago Reader, that city's weekly paper. Early in his career, he was a staff reporter at the Dow Jones News Service. His reporting has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Men's Journal, the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, and the Believer magazine, among other publications. He's also the author of Touchdown Jesus (Simon & Schuster, 2005), a nonfiction book about Notre Dame football fans and the business and politics of big-time college sports. He has degrees from Notre Dame and Washington University in St. Louis.