Saturday, May 10, 2008

Burial at sea

According to USAID "Multiple human activities—including poorly planned or sited coastal development, destructive fishing, overharvesting, and the runoff of sediments and nutrients—have caused the loss of over 25 percent of the world’s coral reefs, and severely threaten close to 60 percent of the remaining reefs." Some of the benefits of reefs include:

  • home and nursery for almost a million fish and other species, many that we rely on for food;

  • some of the earth's most diverse living ecosystems;

  • important protection for coastal communities from storms, wave damage and erosion;

  • full of new and undiscovered biomedical resources that we've only just begun to explore.

(The above was borrowed from

If you are an ocean lover, and weren't wedded to burial in a traditional cemetery, you may be interested in The Neptune Memorial Reef. Located in open waters 3 1/4 miles off the coast of Key Biscayne and 45 feet beneath the ocean surface, this man made reef could eventually span sixteen acres and be home to 125,000 remains.

According to the AP article I read on Yahoo, "The ashes [of the deceased] are mixed with cement designed for underwater use and fitted into a mold, which a diver then places and secures into the reef. A copper and bronze plaque is installed with the person's name, date of birth and death. There is also a line for a message." The materials used are environmentally neutral and could actually improve the surrounding ocean by providing a home to plants and animals.

The reef is laid out like an underwater park of sorts, with gates, pathways, plaques, benches and statuary. It is ironic that the project was initially named Atlantis. From the pictures of the site, one could well imagine future underwater enthusiasts stumbling on the site and wondering if it were the remains of a lost civilization.

I doubt that I will sign up, but I still think its a pretty interesting concept.


Summer said...

While I like to wade in the ocean I don't like to swim in it or in a lake, river, pond or pool. I don't like to be underwater or get my hair wet so I'm pretty sure this isn't the place for my mortal remains. I tell my kids that I will share my ashes with them because I'm not going underground either.

briwei said...

That is kind of cool. Not for me, I think, but I like that people are doing it.