Billionaire Paul Allen's yacht damaged Caribbean protected coral

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Microsoft Mogul's Yacht Blamed for Destroying Coral Reef

SEATTLE (Reuters) -- A massive luxury yacht owned by Microsoft Corp co-founder Paul Allen destroyed most of a protected coral reef during a visit to the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean earlier this month, media reported.

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An anchor chain from the vessel damaged nearly 14,000 square feet (1,300 square meters), or about 80 percent, of reef near two scuba diving sites in the West Bay, the islands' environment department said, according to the Cayman News Service.

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Billionaire Paul Allen's yacht damaged Caribbean protected coral

Tatoosh yacht owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

(Photo by Manfred Segerer/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

Tatoosh yacht owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

(Photo by Manfred Segerer/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

Designer Pam Hogg attends 'The Hospital' Cannes Party hosted by Microsoft's Paul Allen on his yacht 'The Octopus' on May 18, 2005 in Cannes, France. Dave Stewart of The Eurythmics performed with Paul Allen's band, playing tunes from The Eagles and Neil Young at what the multimedia club hopes will become an annual event. (Photo by Dave Benett/Getty Images)
George Lucasa and Paul Allen attend 'The Hospital' Cannes Party hosted by Microsoft's Paul Allen on his yacht 'The Octopus' on May 18, 2005 in Cannes, France. Dave Stewart of The Eurythmics performed with Paul Allen's band, playing tunes from The Eagles and Neil Young at what the multimedia club hopes will become an annual event. (Photo by Dave Benett/Getty Images)
Microsoft founder Paul Allen's superyacht Octopus, docked in Hong Kong, China. , Hong Kong, China. (Photo by: Universal Education/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Pisa's participants (bottom) compete with Venice's participants and Genoa's participant (back) during the Regatta of the Ancient Maritime Republics June 2, 2010 in Genoa, Italy. Behind them a yacht, the Octopus belongs to Microsoft's Paul Allen. This annual event is a sporting and historical reconstruction. In the regatta, four crew challenge each other for better representation of the ancient maritime republics of Amalfi, Genoa, Pisa, and Venice. This year winner was Pisa. on June 2, 2010 in Genoa, Italy. (Photo by Massimo Cebrelli/Getty Images)
The Octopus yacht, owned by co-founder of Microsoft Paul Allen, moored in Canary Wharf over the London 2012 Olympic Games, on July 28, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Jaworski/Getty Images)
The Octopus yacht, owned by co-founder of Microsoft Paul Allen, moored in Canary Wharf over the London 2012 Olympic Games, on July 28, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Jaworski/Getty Images)
Octopus, the megayacht owned by Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft, is moored in Canary Wharf on July 25, 2012, in London, two days ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games in London. (CARL COURT/AFP/GettyImages)
The 414ft luxury yacht 'Octopus' owned by Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen, is moored in South Quay on the Isle of Dogs on July 23, 2012 in London, England. The so-called 'superyachts' have arrived in London to provide accommodation and a venue to entertain guests for their multi-millionaire owners. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
414ft luxury yacht 'Octopus' owned by Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen, is moored to fuel up at Ege Ports in Kusadasi district of Aydin, Turkey on April 27, 2015. (Photo by Ibrahim Uzun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
414ft luxury yacht 'Octopus' owned by Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen, is moored to fuel up at Ege Ports in Kusadasi district of Aydin, Turkey on April 27, 2015. (Photo by Ibrahim Uzun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A family admires the world's largest yacht owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, anchored off Kennedy town in Hong Kong, 05 May 2007. The 126.18 meters Octopus features among others two helicopters on the top deck, and a sixty-three foot tender docked in the transom (one of seven aboard) as well as an eight-person submarine, and built in Germany at a cost of 200 million USD. (TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)
414ft luxury yacht 'Octopus' owned by Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen, is moored to fuel up at Ege Ports in Kusadasi district of Aydin, Turkey on April 27, 2015. (Photo by Ibrahim Uzun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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Allen's Seattle-based Vulcan Inc organization, which manages his fortune, said on Wednesday that the M/V Tatoosh was moored on Jan. 14 in a "position explicitly directed" by the local port authority and that his team was cooperating with the investigation.

"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 said.

The damage to the coral, which is vital for marine life, comes five months after the billionaire philanthropist announced support for research to stabilize and restore coral reefs.

Allen, who owns the NFL's Seattle Seahawks and the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers, is also a massive benefactor in Seattle and beyond, funding everything from libraries to healthcare initiatives and oceanic exploration projects.

At 92.42 meters (303.21 feet), Allen's five-deck Tatoosh is the 49th largest yacht in the world, and has twin helicopter landing pads, an observation lounge, and a gymnasium, according to BoatInternational.com. Allen was not on board at the time of the incident, Vulcan said.

The Cayman News Service reported that divers surveyed the damage last week and that the environment department expects to issue its investigative findings next week.

The service reported that shifting winds may have pushed Allen's vessel toward the coral reserve near the island, south of Cuba and home to some 58,400 residents.

It also reported that the Cayman government has been unable to collect fines after a number of similar incidents over the last few years.

The Cayman Department of Environment did not immediately respond to a request for comment, though an employee said the agency's director and staff were meeting about the incident on Thursday.

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