Paul Allen

Paul Allen is a lucky man: A co-founder of Microsoft, he owns the Seattle Seahawks and the Portland Trail Blazers. He also owns one of the largest yachts in the world, which he uses for deep-sea exploration and as part of various ocean conservation efforts.

Much of that conservation work has now been undone by a terrible accident in the Cayman Islands. According to island officials, the anchor of Allen's yacht was dragged along a protected coral reef, destroying 14,000 square feet of coral -- roughly 80 percent of the entire ecosystem.

The Cayman News Service has described the coral as having suffered "extensive damage." Divers are currently assessing the full extent of the destruction and plan to release a report in the near future.

Coral reefs are living ecosystems that can appear like rock. Marine biologists say a reef can take up to 10,000 years to grow and mature -- making the loss even more profound.

Allen and his company, Vulcan Inc., are not taking responsibility for the accident, instead saying that the yacht "was moored in a position explicitly directed by the local Port Authority," per a press release.

Considering that coral reef research is among Allen's top philanthropic efforts, the news must be disheartening even if he isn't found liable. If he is, though, the punishments are more severe: Allen and crewmembers could be facing criminal charges and a $600,000 fine.

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