Billionaire’s yacht damages Cayman reef

A super yacht owned by a super billionaire is causing super amounts of trouble for a Cayman coral reef.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen recently brought his megayacht to the Cayman Islands. Upon arrival, the anchor chain of the yacht, the M/V Tatoosh, damaged approximately 14,000 square feet of a protected coral reef in the replenishment zone of the West Bay in Grand Cayman.

Now, Allen’s firm is working with Cayman Island authorities to assess the damage. Though Allen allegedly was not on board during the incident last month, his Seattle-based company Vulcan Inc. recently released a statement that port authorities explicitly directed the 300-foot yacht to moor in the bay.

Paul Allen's superyacht, the MV Tatoosh, moored in France. The yacht caused damage to a Cayman reef last month.

Photo: Oxam Hartog, Wikimedia Commons.


“As has been stated previously, on January 14, 2016, M/V Tatoosh was moored in a position explicitly directed by the local Port Authority,” the statement reads. “When its crew was alerted by a private 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.”

However, the damage was already done. According to Cayman News Service, “any vessel that causes damage to local reefs can be fined.” If found guilty, Allen could face a hefty fine up to $600,000, says the Huffington Post.

Still, Allen is also known for his philanthropic work in coral reef research and ocean conservation. An updated statement from Vulcan reiterated the billionaire’s commitment to protecting marine life:

“Because of that commitment, the damage to the reef resonates particularly deeply with us and is why we supported swift action to help mitigate the impact and restore the reef as quickly as possible,” the statement says.

The Cayman Department of Environment (DoE) will soon release a full report on the damage next week. Meanwhile, Vulcan replied in their updated statement Monday:

“We took this step even though extensive past and recent damage to this same reef, as a result of other incidents, makes it difficult to determine what, if any, actual damage was caused by the M/V Tatoosh. Mr. Allen and Vulcan retained experts in coral restoration to assess the situation and provide assistance to the government, and on February 3rd proposed a remediation plan to the Department of Environment.”

In the meantime, the DoE says it will continue to pay attention to the causes and effects of the incident in order to prevent incidents like it from happening again.

Developing story.