A yacht belonging to Paul Allen, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft, has been blamed for destroying a coral reef in the Cayman Islands that has been in an officially designated protected zone for 30 years.
The MV Tatoosh, Allen’s vessel, destroyed 14,000 square feet of coral reef in the West Bay Replenishment Zone off the Cayman Islands, according to the Cayman News Service.
Allen, who also owns the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trailblazers, wasn’t reportedly in the yacht at the time. Also, the yacht’s anchor chain technically destroyed the coral, dragging across about 80 percent of the reef.
Vulcan Inc., his investment firm, said the damage report was “exaggerated,” but it could face a fine of up to $600,000. Vulcan blames the local port authority of directing the yacht to that particular area. In a statement, it said a diver alerted the crew that the anchor chain “may have impacted coral in the area, the crew promptly, and on their own accord, relocated their position to ensure the reef was protected.”
“Vulcan Inc. and Paul G. Allen have a long history of responsible exploration and a commitment to ocean conservation,” the statement added. Vulcan said its funded a research project intended to stabilize and a restore coral reefs, among others.
Local authorities are investigating the matter, the Cayman News Service said.
Tatoosh, at 300 feet in length, is the 49th largest yacht in the world. It has two helipads and a crew of about 30.