Microsoft cofounder's yacht allegedly destroyed a coral reef

paul allen yachts coral reef
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen is a conservationist, but the crew of his yacht are being accused of destroying coral reef in the Cayman Islands.

Paul Allen, who co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates, owns a super-yacht that allegedly had a disastrous run-in with a coral reef.

The Tatoosh, Allen's 300-foot yacht, damaged a chunk of protected coral reef with its anchor chain in the Cayman Islands two weeks ago, according to the islands' Department of Environment.

Ironically, Allen now works to "save endangered species," and "improve ocean health" through his charitable foundation and research projects.

Allen was not aboard the yacht during the incident, according to Scott Slaybaugh, the Department of Environment's deputy director.

The Tatoosh had been stationed near two dive sites on the western coast of Grand Cayman, north of the capital George Town. The area is part of the West Bay Replenishment Zone -- a section of protected waters that, unlike a Marine Park, does not limit vessels to a certain size.

An investigation is ongoing, but the initial estimate is that about 11,000 square feet (a quarter of an acre) of underwater terrain was destroyed.

The maximum fine for the damage is about $600,000, excluding civil damages, Slaybaugh said.

The yacht's crew and Allen are fully cooperating with authorities, a spokesman for Vulcan, Allen's company, said.

"Tatoosh was moored in a position explicitly directed by the local Port Authority," Vulcan said in a statement, adding that the crew moved the vessel as soon as it was notified of potential damage. "Vulcan and Paul G. Allen have a long history of responsible exploration and a commitment to ocean conservation."

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Allen, 63, is worth about $18 billion, according to Bloomberg's Billionaire Index and Forbes. Among his latest conservation projects is the Paul G. Allen Ocean Challenge, which funds research that could help reduce environmental and societal effects from ocean acidification.

Allen also owns another super yacht, the Octopus, which is 414-feet long.

Correction: An earlier version of this article reported an incorrect amount for the maximum fine.

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