“You’ll be sleeping with the fishes” is, as a general rule, not an optimistic thing to hear. But a company called Eternal Reefs is putting a much nicer spin on the idea for people who’ve decided to be cremated after they’ve passed away. It’s incorporating the remains into artificial coral reefs, to become habitats for fish and other sea creatures.
Cremated remains are mixed into “100 percent natural cast concrete” to create a “pearl.” Once the pearl has been cast, the family can personalize it with handprints or messages etched into the damp concrete and add small mementos.
On the dedication day, a boat is chartered for friends and family to observe the reef ball as it is placed in the reef where it will become an established habitat. The fish, turtles and other forms of sea life are happy — and there’s one less urn of ashes to get lost in the attic.
(Wait, people keep ashes in the ATTIC? Y’all are spooky.)
According to the company, which was already making these concrete “pearls” as reef rehabilitation tools, sans cremated remains, here’s how this particular business started:
In 1998, Carleton Glen Palmer, Don Brawley’s father-in-law, talked about having his cremated remains put in a reef. As Carleton put it, “I can think of nothing better than having all that action going on around me all the time after I am gone. Just make sure that the location has lots of red snapper and grouper.” Shortly after Carleton made this request, he passed away …
Don quickly set to work mixing the remains into the reef ball concrete to add to a placement they had planned in Sarasota, Florida. On May 1, 1998, a reef of ten Nautilus & twenty Aquarius Memorial Reefs were cast. The reefs were soon placed to create a beautiful, natural memorial setting. Carleton got his wish, and his reef is now teaming with sea life.
This makes just as much sense to me as burying a person in the ground and putting a stone on top — especially if you’ve always wanted to encourage your loved ones to learn how to snorkel or scuba dive.