A luxury yacht belonging to Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen destroyed roughly 1,300 square metres of a protected coral reef during a visit to the Cayman Islands earlier this month.
The 92 metre yacht, The M/V Tatoosh, reportedly dragged an anchor chain which damaged about 80 per cent of a reef near two scuba diving sites in the West Bay of the Cayman Islands, according to the Cayman News Service.
Allen’s Seattle-based investment firm Vulcan Inc. said in a statement the M/V Tatoosh was involved in an incident on Jan. 14.
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“When its crew was alerted by a diver that her 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,” the company said.
“Vulcan and the ship’s crew are actively and cooperatively working with local authorities to determine the details of what happened. An investigation by local authorities is ongoing.”
According to BoatInternational.com, the Tatoosh is the 49th largest yacht in the world, with five decks, twin helicopter landing pads, a movie theatre, an observation area, and a gym.
CNN reports the damage to the reef could prompt a fine of up to $600,000; a relatively small fine given his is estimated net worth is $17.4-billion.
Allen, who also owns the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks and the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers, is a well-known philanthropist who has donated money to everything from libraries to health-care initiatives and, ironically, an oceanic research project to stabilize and restore coral reefs.
The Cayman News Service reported that despite a number of incidents of reef damage over the last few years involving cruise ships and yachts, the government has failed to collect on any fines.
Last year a Carnival Cruise Line made a donation after one of its cruise ships damaged a large area in the George Town Harbour, but the cruise line was never fined.