The graveyard—and artificial reef—is touted as an environmentally friendly alternative to a cemetery burial.
Once upon a time, “sleeping with the fishes” was likely not a fate you’d want to meet. But an innovative burial option has people rethinking the famous Godfather phrase–and paying money to get there.
The Neptune Memorial Reef is a man-made reef located 3.25 miles off the coast of Key Biscayne and 45 feet beneath the crystal-clear sea. Designed as an artistic representation of the Lost City of Atlantis, the reef is part museum, part marine habitat, and part memorial site. Built on 16 acres of ocean floor, the reef contains thousands of columns and sculptures—many of which are made by mixing reinforced concrete with the cremated remains of people.
While it may sound morbid, the unique burial option is one more and more are considering as an environmentally friendly alternative to land-based cemeteries. As a part of the Memorial Reef, cremated remains become one with the sea, helping to mitigate the effects of natural reef destruction by encouraging growth in an artificial one.
As part of the process, families are able to select the placement and reef feature they’d like their loved ones integrated into, with options including everything from columns and benches to cement sculptures of seashells and marine animals. Each memorial is then marked with a copper plaque.
With a final resting place in the middle of the ocean, visiting a loved one becomes part watersport. The Memorial Reef is free and accessible to everyone with a boat (or a boat charter) and dive gear. And, with continued growth expected—the reef plans to hold up to 250,000 people when complete—the evolution of the space can only mean a more diverse marine habitat.
According to The Miami Herald, snagging waterfront property (meaning ashes are mixed with cement into a mold and secured to the ocean floor) at this undersea cemetery starts at $1,999—quite a bit cheaper than a traditional burial with a casket. Not bad for an eternity spent in a tropical paradise, right?
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