Microsoft co-founder and marine conservationist Paul Allen’s yacht destroyed 80% of a coral reef

Say it ain’t so.
Say it ain’t so.
Image: Reuters/Peter Andrews
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The Tatoosh, a 300-foot yacht owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, is reportedly responsible for wiping out a protected coral reef in the Cayman Islands this month. This is an embarrassing development for Allen given his philanthropic foundation’s investments in ocean conservation.

Authorities say the Tatoosh ripped up 14,000 square feet of coral when it was anchored on the west side of Grand Cayman Island on Jan. 14, damaging 80% of the area’s reef.

The chain on the anchor’s yacht caused the trouble, much like what occurred nearby with the anchor chain of the 700-foot Zenith cruise ship late last year. The Tatoosh‘s crew said they had anchored the ship in a location approved by Grand Cayman’s Port Authority. Shifting winds may have pushed the yacht and its anchor chain across the reef, according to the Cayman News.

After a local scuba diver noticed that the anchor chain was hurting the reef and informed the crew, they moved the yacht right away, according to a statement from Vulcan, Allen’s investment firm.

Allen—who, despite owning a yacht and donating to marine conservation initiatives, reportedly hates the sound of the ocean—was not on board the vessel during the incident.

Incidents like this are increasingly common in the Caymans, where more boats visit each year. And though the government is technically able to levy fines on vessels that damage protected reefs, none have been collected for recent high-profile accidents like the Zenith‘s. The maximum fine for Allen’s Tatoosh would be $600,000.