A Florida company is giving families a new option to commemorate loved ones while helping the environment.
Sarasota-based Eternal Reefs offers memorials by incorporating the cremated remains of a person with a reef ball and submerging them on the ocean floor.
“We’ve worked with over 3,000 families, and the whole process is designed to involve the family in the remembrance process,” George Frankel, CEO of Eternal Reefs, told USA TODAY.
Frankel said a family can be involved by mixing the cremated remains into concrete, adding handprints, written messages and non-invasive keepsakes like coins their loved one traveled with or military metals. .
“Sometimes you can really tell who the person in life was by the materials left as memories,” Frankel said.
The reef ball design was initiated by a group of University of Georgia divers in the 1980s, according to Frankel. When they saw the degradation of the coral reefs, they came up with the design that looks like a “bullet cut in half”.
The reef ball is made of pH neutral concrete, with 80% of its weight concentrated in the bottom 40% to stabilize the reef. Frankel said the energy of the storms will pass around, through and over the reef balls due to their hollow and ventilated design.
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Mother Nature has two questions when you put materials in the ocean, Frankel said.
“First, will it stay where it’s placed? Because if it isn’t going to stay where it is, it’s more dangerous than good. The second thing is, is it made of material that Mother Nature wants to work with? ”
Frankel was working with one of the divers who promised his father to drop his cremated remains with the reef when the idea resonated with him – the memorial reefs.
With social media as a tool, in recent years Eternal Reefs has offered a different way to commemorate loved ones in addition to a funeral or cremation.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Frankel has said his business has been inundated with requests for information. The price of the reef can range from $ 2,500 to $ 7,500, depending on the size and involvement of the family.
So far, 2,500 Eternal Reefs have been placed off the coasts of Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.
“All of a sudden here is this concept of using commemoration as a tool to improve the marine environment,” Frankel said. “People will be able to choose from a number of different options that will improve the environment, and I think that’s great.”
Follow reporter Asha Gilbert @Coastalasha. Email: [email protected]