incorporates cremated remains into artificial reefs for those who
like the idea of becoming one with the ocean. Company president Don
Brawley said that Eternal Reefs' plan is a way of "living on."
"Think about it," he said. "Would you rather spend eternity in a
field of dead people or down in the sea with all that life?"
Eternal Reefs is an offshoot of the Reef Ball Development Group,
which has been creating and placing artificial reefs since the
1970s. The reefs are made of specially treated concrete designed to
mimic a natural reef and to last a minimum of 500 years. Reef Balls
has placed tens of thousands of artificial reefs on the East Coast
and in the Caribbean in an effort to bolster deteriorating reef
systems, but is only now offering customers the chance to
incorporate their remains into a "permanent, living memorial."
"This is a way for the public to be involved with the
preservation of the ecosystem," said Brawley. "I kind of look at it
as new life for a new millennium."
Eternal Reefs hit upon the idea of creating reef memorials when
Brawley's father-in-law was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 1998.
He requested that his cremated remains be implanted in an artificial
reef. As he put it: "I can think of nothing better than having all
that action going on around me all the time after I am gone -- just
make sure that the location has lots of red snapper and grouper."
Brawley honored this request by mixing his father-in-law's
cremated remains with the concrete used to form a reef.
"We basically put [his ashes] into the concrete mixer and cast a
reef with his remains mixed in," Brawley said. "It was really
touching for me putting the remains in the concrete and knowing he
was in there."
That reef was then sunk off the coast of Sarasota, Florida, and,
as a friend of Brawley's reports, it is indeed surrounded by grouper