Want To Become A Coral Reef When You Die?

The subject of dying is one that we normally don't want to spend time thinking about, but if there is one thing for sure in this world it is that we are all going to die. What happens to our remains is up to us. Standard burials have been eating up the land to the point that the space could one day run out. To that end more people are now opting for cremation, but what to do with the ashes. One really awesome idea is Eternal Reefs where the ashes of the dearly departed become a part of a new ocean reef.

Eternal Reefs (Image via Facebook)Eternal Reefs (Image via Facebook)

Some people have their ashes placed in a box and then locked in a columbarium so that there is a specific place for the loved ones to go and pay their respects. Others have their ashes scattered in a favorite place. My mother's ashes were scattered in the mountain valley she loved most, for example. What if there was yet another choice that would not take away from the environment, but help create new life?

Eternal Reefs is a company that seeks to help people who have passed to "create a permanent, living legacy." 

Eternal Reefs (Image via Eternal Reefs)Eternal Reefs (Image via Eternal Reefs)

It all started back in the 80s when a couple of college buddies decided to do something about the declining ocean reefs after a diving trip in the Florida Keys. Once they were out of school they set about "creating a material and system that would replicate the natural marine environment that supports coral and microorganism development." The result was something called a "reef ball."

These balls are made of a material that are friendly to the environment on the ocean floor to help encourage marine life to settle in and for coral to take hold and begin to grow. They are sturdy enough and stable enough to remain unmoving regardless of the currents, even in heavy storms. More than 400,000 reef balls have been placed world-wide to begin rebuilding reefs.

Eternal Reefs (Image via Eternal Reefs)Eternal Reefs (Image via Eternal Reefs)

The idea for Eternal Reefs did not come along until the father-in-law of  the founder started talking about how he woud like to have his cremated remains placed in a reef with all of the sea life around him. The man passed away shortly after this conversation. Then Don Brawley, founder of Eternal Reefs, started thinking. He mixed the ashes into the concrete for a reef ball. The man had his remains planted in the ocean as he wished, just off the coast of Sarasota, Florida and his tiny reef is teeming with life.

This was the birth of Eternal Reefs. It is increasingly becoming the resting place of choice for many people especially military, environmentalists, fishermen, and divers. It is truly a way to pay it forward to ocean life and future generations.

Eternal Reefs (Image via Eternal Reefs)Eternal Reefs (Image via Eternal Reefs)

Loved ones are encouraged, but not required, to participate in the casting of the reef ball that will hold their loved one's remains. The ashes are mixed with environmentally safe concrete to create what they call the Pearl. While the Pearl is setting up an additional layer of concrete is added to the top of the reef and family members are invited to personalize the reef with handprints, written messages, seashells, and small personal treasures that are not harmful to marine life.

A brass plaque is affixed to the outside of the reef ball much like the engraving on a headstone. Paper and wax are provided so that loved ones can make a rubbing of the plaque. 

Once everything is ready it is time to head out to sea for the placing of the reef and a dedication ceremony. The reef balls are placed in groups so your loved one will be in good company with like-minded people.

Sources: Eternal Reefs, Facebook