An American mega-yacht is being blamed for destroying 80% of the protected coral within a 13,000-square-foot area of a Cayman Islands marine reserve, the Cayman Compass reports. The 303-foot yacht named Tatoosh belongs to billionaire Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft and owner of the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trail Blazers, reports the Washington Post. The damage was caused on or around Jan. 14 near a popular dive site, and the Cayman Islands Department of Environment is continuing to look into what happened. At the moment, it appears the coral was damaged by the Tatoosh dragging its anchor chain, notes the Compass.
A spokesperson for Allen blames the incident on strong winds moving the yacht too close to the marine reserve, and GeekWire quotes a statement from Vulcan—Allen's company—that claims media accounts of the damage are "greatly exaggerated." The islands' Department of Environment is set to issue its report on the incident next week, according to the Post. If found responsible, Allen—who may or may not have been on the Tatoosh at the time—could face a major fine. Coral reefs are vitally important for everything from providing a habitat for marine life to protecting coastlines from storms. The Tatoosh, which features not one but two helipads, is one of the top 50 largest yachts in the world. But GeekWire points out it's actually the smaller of Allen's yachts. (On the bright side, Allen's yachting has resulted in a cool maritime find.)