Burial option combines human remains with artificial
Memorials to be placed for the first
off Fort Lauderdale
Waterfront News Writer
Chris Zook loved the water.
"He always fished and dived for lobster," said Zook's aunt, Cindy
Larschan, of Palm Beach Gardens. "It's been his whole life, since he
was old enough to walk."
death last year at age 37, Zook, a Lake Worth resident, saw a news
story on television describing how people's remains are incorporated
into reefs, and told his family that was what he wanted, Larschan
said. On Oct. 1, Zook's wish will be granted. His loved ones will
board a chartered boat to watch divers place a permanent memorial
bearing his cremated remains underneath the ocean, one mile off Fort
Zook's memorial will
be one of 15 sphere-like structures that will be installed by an
Atlanta, Georgia-based company called Eternal Reefs, Inc. The firm
has been creating and placing memorial reefs since 1998 by
incorporating cremated remains into a concrete mixture that creates
a sphere-like structure with holes that some say resembles a giant
ball of Swiss cheese.
has some 100 reefs on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. In Florida,
reefs have been placed in Manatee, Sarasota and Collier counties.
The deployment off Fort Lauderdale will be the firm's first memorial
in Broward County, said Don Brawley, company president. "We have a
number of people in the area who were interested in having a
memorial reef created," he said.
Fifteen families will be watching as memorials holding their loved
ones' remains are placed in the waters off Fort Lauderdale. The
individual reef balls will be in a grouping to create one large
community reef, Brawley said. Each ball will bear a plaque and
families will be provided with the latitude and longitude data, in
the event they want to make future visits.
Based on requests, the company will create more memorial
reefs in South Florida, Brawley said. Depending on its size, the
company's reef balls can hold one to four sets of cremated remains.
The smallest memorial is two feet high and three feet wide and
weighs 400 pounds. The largest is four feet high and six feet wide
and weights 4,000 pounds, Brawley said. Costs range from $850 to
$3,200, not including the cost of cremation, he
The company can create a reef
using a single sphere, or by placing several together. Not every
sphere has to contain cremated remains. In cases where the person
has been buried or their ashes have been scattered, family members
can opt to have a reef ball created without the remains, he said. A
cofounder of Reef Ball Inc., Brawley's company developed an
artificial reef module in the early 1990s. In 1998, Brawley's
father-in-law was diagnosed with a terminal illness and asked that
his remains be mixed into one of the modules and placed on the ocean
floor. Brawley's father-in-law passed away a few months later and
his wish was granted. Other people heard and began making requests.
Since he began creating the
memorials, Brawley said there is no real typical customer or family.
However, the one common thread that runs between them all is their
love of the environment, he said. Once placed, the reef balls
provide a habitat for fish, coral and sponges. "This is a memorial
that creates a living legacy for generations to come and that's very
appealing to people," he said. "People want to do the right thing
with their loved ones' remains and we offer the only environmentally
positive burial option."
Bob Logan, of
Tavares, believes the memorial is the perfect closure. He and his
family intend to watch as a sphere bearing the remains of his son,
Scott, will be placed off Fort Lauderdale
Scott Logan, a former Orlando resident, died at age 37 of
cancer last year. His wife kept his ashes and the family had been in
a quandary over what to do with the remains, said Bob Logan.
One day, Scott Logan's wife, Becky, spotted a story on Eternal Reefs
in the newspaper. "When she sent me a copy of this, we all said this
is Scotty," said Bob Logan, who describes his son's background as
"strictly water." "He fished, swam, did scuba diving and was a blue
water sailor," said Bob Logan. "He just loved the water. I know this
is where he wants to be." When the time comes for Bob and his wife,
Mary, the couple have put in their wills that they want their
remains mixed into a concrete sphere and placed next to their son's
information, Eternal Reefs has a web site at www.eternalreefs.com