A coral reef in the Cayman Islands may have been severely damaged by a yacht belonging to Paul Allen, a billionaire businessman and one of Microsoft's co-founders, Yachting and Boating World reports.
The Department of Environment said the anchor on the 300 foot yacht (the MV Tatoosh) destroyed more than 80% of the protected coral reef in the area where it was moored, the West Bay replenishment zone, adding up to almost 14,000 square feet.
The Weather Network reports that the yacht is worth $160 million and includes two helicopter pads and five decks, with a crew of 35, making it one of the top 50 largest "superyachts" in the world.
Allen says his yacht was anchored according to local guidelines, the Cayman News Service reports:
However, while staff may be assisting and cooperating with the DoE enquiry, a statement released by Allen’s communication team shows the billionaire is not taking responsibility and implicated the Port Authority, saying the crew followed officials’ instructions on where to place the vessel. Shifting winds reportedly changed the position, pushing the ship toward the reserve but it was relocated to avoid damage.
The Department of Environment is investigating the damage and will publish a report next week, which could mean fines for Allen if his crew is found to have violated anchoring guidelines.
Update: Fusion received the following statement from Vulcan Inc., Allen's company:
On January 14, 2016, MV Tatoosh was moored in a position explicitly directed by the local Port Authority. 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. 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.