Microsoft mogul's yacht blamed for reef destruction

Octopus Yacht

A super yacht belonging to Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has been blamed for destroying a large area of protected coral reef in the Cayman Islands.

The anchor chain of the billionaire's 303-foot mega-yacht, the MV Tatoosh, destroyed almost 14,000 square foot of reef in a protected area in the West Bay area of the Cayman Islands, according to the islands' Department of Environment (DoE).

Cayman officials told the islands' news service that more than 80 percent of the coral in the area has been damaged by the luxury boat's anchor chain. Local divers conducted an in-water survey of the coral reef damage last week and the DoE expects to publish the detail findings next week.

"Early findings already indicate extensive damage and investigations into the circumstances of the incident are ongoing, with the assistance of staff aboard the Microsoft billionaire's superyacht, which was anchored close to the Doc Poulson wreck and The Knife dive site, officials said," the Cayman News Service reported.

Paul Allen, who co-founded tech giant Microsoft with Bill Gates, has turned to philanthropic ventures including, ironically, supporting ocean protection through several ventures which are overseen by his company, Vulcan.

Vulcan issued a statement on Wednesday deflecting responsibility for the incident and saying "Tatoosh acted responsibly and we're cooperating with officials."

"Vulcan Inc. and Paul G. Allen have a long history of responsible exploration and a commitment to ocean conservation."

"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," the statement on Vulcan's website said.

"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," it added.