Paul Allen’s Yacht Tatoosh Destroys Protected Cayman Reef
On a recent visit to the Cayman Islands, Tatoosh, billionaire Paul Allen’s 300-foot luxury yacht damaged more than 14,000 square feet of reef off Grand Cayman’s West Bay. The area, a replenishment zone, is protected under Cayman’s strict marine conservation laws.
After making it’s way to the designated mooring site, M/V Tatoosh dropped her anchor in a large sand area near the wreck of the Doc Poulson. This large sand hole, when used properly, is a safe anchorage site. Unfortunately, shifting winds caused the yacht to swing, pulling free the massive anchor and dragging it’s chain across a thousands of year old coral reef.
We decided to dive the site today and see for ourselves the damage done. Needless to say, we were blown away by the amount of dead and broken coral. The majority of the destruction is found near the top of the wall, between the anchorage site and the wall behind Mitch Miller’s Reef. The coral here has been pummeled into rubble, leaving little standing or recognizable as the beautiful area we have dived so many times.
While it is true that the ships crew dropped the anchor as directed by the Port Authority of the Cayman Islands, they are still responsible for keeping the vessel secure at anchor. No matter how you slice it, this is yet another example of how mankind is hell bent on destroying what little coral reef we have left. There are some living corals mixed among the piles of rubble. If swift action is taken, we might be able to save some of these delicate organisms , but little can be done to restore this once incredible living reef to it’s condition prior to this disaster.
The video below was shot on January 31st, just 17 days after the destruction.