Families Using Dead Loved Ones to Create Reefs - NBC 6 South Florida

Families Using Dead Loved Ones to Create Reefs

People can visit their loved ones after the reef has taken hold



    Families Using Dead Loved Ones to Create Reefs
    A memorial reef ball.

    Organ donors choose to donate their body parts to contribute to the good of the public when they die.

    Now, choosing a watery grave can help the environment and replenish dwindling reef systems in the waters of South Florida using cremated ashes.

    On Friday, the families of six people who recently passed away took the cremated remains of their loved ones and used them to help create new marine ecosystems.

    Ashes were mixed with eco-friendly cast concrete to form huge reef balls. The reef balls, which the family decorated with their own handprints and other memorabilia, were then placed in the waters just off of Haulover Park.

    These “memorial reefs” will be the new home to diverse marine life, said officials of Eternal Reefs, an Atlanta-based company that handles such requests.

    The families will then return Monday by boat for the final placement of the new ecosystem. Contrary to visiting a cemetery, they will be able to return any time to visit by boat to dive or even fish at the new reef.

    In addition to the six people, the remains of a sea turtle named Griffin, who suffered a stroke and could no longer swim, was also added to the mix to help his fellow sea animals.

    Eternal Reefs has placed over 1,500 reefs off the coasts of Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia, and Texas.

    Each individual reef ball comes with a memorial plaque, similar to that of a tombstone and two memorial certificates.

    The smallest reef is two feet high and three feet wide and weighs 400 pounds. The largest is four feet high and six feet wide and weighs 4,000 pounds, according to the company's website.

    They range in price from about $3,000 to $7,000.