N.J. -- As if shooting them into space or pressing them into
artificial diamonds were not sufficiently offbeat, the deceased can
now have their ashes mixed into concrete to help form ocean fish
A Georgia company has placed about 200 of the concrete cones,
called "reef balls," in the ocean, mostly along the Gulf Coast. Last
week, it interred cones filled with the ashes of several former New
Jersey residents about seven miles off the shore as part of the
Great Egg Reef.
Eternal Reefs was founded by Don Brawley and George Frankel in
2001 after Brawley, an accomplished diver, had the idea of mixing
human ashes with concrete to make the reef balls into memorials.
"Most states with reef programs buy artificial reefs," Frankel
said. "We like to think that we're buying public reef balls with
Burying a loved one's ashes in a reef ball can cost between
$1,000 to $5,000. Decatur, Ga.-based Eternal Reefs also has two
models for pets, for $400 and $500.
The balls have grapefruit-size holes in them to dissipate
currents, and their surface is dimpled to encourage coral growth.
The company received 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 tires
Relatives and friends of those interred last week said they
wanted to do something more tangible with their loved ones' ashes
than scattering them or leaving them on a shelf.
"I thought we would get my three kids together and we would
sprinkle them on the ocean," Kit Aronson, who buried the ashes of
her husband Robert, told The New York Times for Saturday's editions.
"But this is doing it in a more identifiable fashion, where the kids
can see where he is. Not in a mausoleum or Arlington Cemetery, but
Ruth Townsend, a close friend of the Aronsons, deemed it a
fitting memorial to a man who loved the shore.
"For Bobby, it wasn't about the beach, it was about the ocean and
fishing," Townsend said. "This man would fish in the snow, and this
way, he's part of the sea, and part of its renewal."