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Oct. 2, 2004, 9:33PM

New home for eternity: sea floor memorial

New York Times

OCEAN CITY, N.J. - To the many ways Americans can honor the remains of the dearly departed — blasting their ashes into space or freezing the remains or simply sealing the body in a coffin— add one more option: mixing the cremation ashes with marine-grade concrete and forming an artificial reef, a home for the fish and the coral.


So it was recently that joining the decommissioned Army tanks that have already been lowered to the sandy ocean floor off South Jersey, were the mortal remains of Robert Aronson, an avid ocean fisherman; Cecelia Schoppaul, who could watch the surf roll in for hours; and Charles Wehler, who hated swimming but loved the South Jersey shore.

Their relatives watched from a chartered fishing boat about seven miles off Atlantic City.

Eternal Reefs has placed about 200 reef ball memorials since its founding, mostly along the Gulf Coast states.

The company offers three sizes, of 400, 1,500 and 2,000 pounds, costing between $1,000 and $5,000.

The reef balls are cast with most of the weight at the bottom to provide stability, while the hollow design and holes dissipate energy from currents.

The concrete surface is roughened to encourage coral growth.

A brass plaque marking the name and dates of the person being memorialized is included in the price.

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