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Damage to a protected coral reef in the Cayman Islands is being blamed on a super yacht owned by Seattle billionaire Paul Allen, the Cayman News Service is reporting this week.

Allen’s 303-foot yacht Tatoosh reportedly dragged an anchor chain and “destroyed almost 14,000 square feet of reef in the West Bay replenishment zone, the Department of Environment confirmed following a survey of the area.” Cayman News Service reports that a more thorough assessment of the damage and the circumstances that caused it is ongoing.

In a statement shared with GeekWire on Wednesday, Allen’s Vulcan Inc. said, “Media reports are greatly exaggerated and the investigation by the local authorities is continuing. The local port authority had directed the Tatoosh to anchor in a designated area, and the crew moved the vessel, on its own accord, as soon as it learned from local divers that there might be a problem. The crew is cooperating fully with the local authorities in this matter.”

Paul Allen
Paul Allen

Officials said the vessel was anchored close to the Doc Poulson wreck and The Knife dive site. It was not clear whether the Microsoft co-founder was on board at the time of the Jan. 14 incident.

Allen’s philanthropic contributions to wildlife conservation and environmental causes are well documented. The Paul G. Allen Ocean Challenge, in fact, aims to find different approaches to curbing ocean acidification that destroys coral reefs. Vulcan is also a partner with Sea Around Us, a research initiative at The University of British Columbia that assesses the impact of fisheries on the marine ecosystems of the world.

The Tatoosh comes in at No. 48 on an active list of the 100 biggest yachts in the world, according to superyachts.com. She is capable of carrying up to 30 crew members and can offer accommodation for up to 20 guests, the site says. When not sailing that little runabout around the world, the Seattle Seahawks owner might be found aboard his other mega-yacht, at No. 16 on the list, the 414-foot Octopus.

Update: Later Wednesday, Vulcan issued a new statement regarding the reef incident.

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