We have written many headlines regarding the plight of the world’s coral reefs, whether it be coral bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef or coastal development and pollution off Mexico’s Yucatan coast. We have also described the heroic efforts to save coral reef ecosystems by growing corals in nurseries or creating artificial reefs. Here’s a story about an artificial reef, but with a twist, a coral reef that’s to die for.
Taking Burial at Sea to an all new level
In 40 feet of water, 3.25 miles off Key Biscayne, Florida the Neptune Memorial Reef, also known as the Atlantis Reef was conceived by its founders to be a memorial within what would become the world’s largest man-made reef, eventually covering over 600,000 sq. feet. At present it covers a bit more than a half-acre but an expansion is already underway. (photo – Charles Davis)
A Cremation Memorial Site
To be exact, the Neptune Reef is neither a mausoleum nor an underwater cemetery, here the cremated ashes of your dear Aunt Harriett are mixed with an underwater concrete to create features that become part of the reef forming a structure upon which actual corals will grow.
On their website, the founders of the project call it “An Undersea Tribute to Life.” They also say that the reef is an artistic representation of the lost city of Atlantis, not that they claim to have original blueprints of Atlantis. Instead it is their imagined depiction of what Atlantis might have looked like complete with arches, columns and stone lions.
You can buy a bit of this starting at $1,500 USD up to $8000 USD. The higher price will buy you a specialized concrete shape like a sea turtle or stingray. Along with your hunk of concrete you get an engraved bronze plaque dedicated to your loved one.
Neptune Reef actually works!
The important thing is that the reef seems to be working. The concrete used contains a high pH level that encourages marine life to attach to the structure and flourish.
A survey completed in April by Sara Thanner, an environmental supervisor with the Department of Regulatory and Economic Resources, found that the reef now supports more than 65 different types of fish, shrimp and lobster, plus many species of sponges and hard and soft corals, as reported to AP’s Kelli Kennedy.
The remains of 1,500 individuals have already found eternal rest on the Atlantis Reef and the new expansion will enable 4,000 additional memorials to be placed. Neptune’s founders suggest that eventually as many as 100,000 individuals can find a final home here.
“We’re creating life after life” says Jim Hutslar one of the creators of Neptune Memorial Reef, adding that he hopes that decades from now individual memorials will no longer be distinguishable within a massive coral reef and that “family members will just know their loved ones are part of it.”
The Neptune Reef is free and available to all visitors including recreational scuba divers, marine biologists, students and researchers. No lobstering allowed.
By Robert Frerck, Blue Ocean Network
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