A 300ft yacht owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, has torn up more than 14,000 square feet of coral in the West Bay replenishment zone of the Cayman Islands. Although Allen wasn't there at the time, the boat's anchor chain is said to have destroyed as much as 80 per cent of the reef – something that seems rather ironic, considering Allen's own foundation looks to encourage marine conservation.
A statement from Allen's investment firm, Vulcan, claims that the incident took place on 14th January. A diver is said to have alerted the crew that the giant yacht's anchor cable had been dragging through coral.
“The crew [then] promptly, and on their own accord, relocated their position to ensure the reef was protected,” it said. It also pointed out that the crew were now aiding investigation by the local authorities to find out exactly what happened.
The Tahoosh is so big, it even has its own Wiki page. It was originally purchased by Allen in 2001 for $100 million. Source: Wikimedia
With a net worth of $18 billion+, Paul Allen is unlikely to feel the pinch of any fines related to the incident, which the Guardian claims could be up to $600,000 (£420,000). However more damaging may be the effect on his reputation. Allen is known as an environmental philanthropist, helping to subsidise efforts to restore coral reefs around the world, as well as conserve other marine life.
Having a ship that you own chew through almost an entire reef in a protected area is embarrassing and potentially problematic for any environmental partnerships Allen had planned for the future.
Unfortunately for the local environment though, the Cayman Islands hosts these sorts of mega-yachts as a way to bring in local income. This is far from the first incident of this type, though the local authorities have said they will try to learn from this incident to better protect the environment against this sort of damage in the future.
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KitGuru Says: It's hard to imagine how a ship's anchor chain could cause so much damage without anyone knowing. Did they just drag it around without hauling it back in?