Tribute to dearly departed finds concrete expression
September 27, 2004

Ocean City, New Jersey - Relatives of the deceased can now have their ashes mixed into concrete to help form ocean habitats.

A Georgia company has placed about 200 of the concrete cones, called "reef balls", in the ocean, mostly along the US's Gulf Coast.

Last week, it interred cones filled with the ashes of several people about 10km off the shore as part of the Great Egg Reef.

Don Brawley, an accomplished diver, came up with the idea of turning artificial reefs into memorials, and founded Eternal Reefs with George Frankel in 2001.

"Most states with reef programmes buy artificial reefs," Frankel said. "We like to think that we're buying public reef balls with private money."

Burying a loved one's ashes in a reef ball can cost between $1 000 (about R6 400) and $5 000. Decatur, Georgia-based Eternal Reefs also has two models for pets, for between $400 and $500.

The balls have grapefruit-sized holes in them to dissipate current, and their surface is dimpled to encourage coral growth.

The company got approval from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to put ashes in the reef installations.

The Great Egg Reef also contains decommissioned army tanks and old tyres cabled together. - Sapa-AP

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