Paul Allen’s 303-Foot Yacht Destroys Protected Coral Reef In Cayman Islands

The 303-foot yacht's anchor chain destroyed about 14,000 square feet of coral reef.

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Sponge biodiversity in the Cayman Islands. Via NOAA Photo Library/Flickr
John Virata

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, and owner of various sports teams is in the news as his 303-foot yacht, the M/V Tatoosh, apparently destroyed about 80 percent of a protected coral reef in the Cayman Islands two weeks ago. According to the Seattle Times, the yacht’s anchor chain damaged or destroyed about 14,000 square feet of the coral reef near the Doc Poulson shipwreck and The Knife dive site in the West Bay replenishing zone. While the Cayman Port Authority blames Allen’s yacht crew for the mishap, Allen’s Vulcan, Inc. put out a statement disputing those assertions.

Cayman island sponges
Yellow tube sponge, Aplysina fistularis, the purple vase sponge, Niphates digitalis, the red encrusting sponge, Spiratrella coccinea, and the gray rope sponge, Callyspongia sp. Caribbean Sea, Cayman Islands. Photo by NOAA
“On January 14, 2016, M/V 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.”

The Cayman Islands Department of Environment is expected to determine who was at fault during this mishap, but in the meantime, a coral reef has been severely damaged in the Cayman Islands.

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