Paul Allen, a mega rich co-founder of Microsoft, is involved in a search in the Pacific for an American pilot and two Palau police officers whose plane disappeared over the weekend. The pilot and officers disappeared after confronting Chinese poachers who were caught fishing in marine reserves.
The poachers were after giant clams (Tridacna gigas) which are the largest living bivalve mollusks. They can weigh up to 200 kilograms and grow up to 1.2 meters long. The species is threatened by overfishing for three reasons:
Their shells are sought after as souvenirs
They are being over harvested for their meat
And they are valuable in aquarium trading
The search continues in Palau for the pilot and two police officers who were aboard a Cessna aircraft that had to make an emergency landing in the waters off Palau Sunday. Coast Guard Sector Guam officials who are actively part of the search say they are getting a lot of Palau government and community volunteers coming out to help with the search efforts.
There is currently a fleet of ships scouring the Pacific to find these men, and Allen’s 414 foot yacht, called the Octopus, is part of the flotilla. The yacht also has two helicopters, a submarine, and a remote-controlled underwater vessel.
According to the New York Post, Coast Guard spokesman Lt. j.g. Richard Russell commends Allen for all of his help on the mission: “The last few days, he’s been lending us both his helicopters in aid of the search. He’s been a huge help.”
Court documents reportedly indicate that there are about 25 Chinese fishermen facing charges after diving for and retrieving giant clams in protected waters.