Memorial Reef: Creating a new life in the afterlife!

The death care industry in the United States is presently experiencing a period of significant change.  Americans are turning to cremation as a funeral alternative at a much higher rate than was originally forecast.  Tradition is eroding, environmentalism is expanding, and the memorialization aspect of the funeral ritual now presents boundless possibilities when the body is reduced to cremated remains.  As more and more families choose cremation, so the question arises “What do we do with the cremated remains?”

Burial at Sea

Many people who have been ocean-lovers, servicemen, fishermen or divers request a burial at sea.  This was not so easy to arrange when a body needs to be sunk to the bottom of the ocean floor.  There are certain regulations from the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that govern just how a body can be disposed of at sea.  However, burying cremated remains in the ocean is not as rigidly governed.

An alternative form of burial for cremated remains

A memorial reef is an underwater cemetery that evolves with life and becomes more vibrant and teeming the more established it becomes.  This notion of a permanent memorial site in the ocean is appealing to many as an alternative means of interring cremated remains.   Interring cremated remains into an existing cemetery plot or a cremation niche can work out expensive, so the option to create a unique and personalized aquatic resting-place can offer a truly alternative form of eternity!

What is a memorial reef?  A ‘Circle of Life’

A memorial reef is basically an artificial construct of a marine habitat that resembles the natural marine habitat of thousands of marine creatures.  It truly becomes a living memorial as it teems with aquatic life and evolves over time to become a living coral reef.  The ashes of the deceased live on in perpetual harmony with the eco-system, helping to restore life to coral reefs, and in underwater areas where natural habitats have often been destroyed.

How is a memorial reef made?

A memorial reef construct is made from concrete.  The human remains of the deceased are mixed into the concrete before it is poured into the mold.  There are various options of what kind of size and shape of the memorial reef you can choose.  Basic reef balls are a plain concrete dome structure with holes to enable marine life to flourish within the structure.  

The Neptune reef offers an Atlantis themed reef area, where numerous different structures can be purchased from small starfish shapes to large benches or lion structures.  But other memorial reef companies offer basic reef ball structures that are sited on the ocean floor in designated memorial reef territories.

Why choose a memorial reef?

A memorial reef is not for everyone.  It is most likely especially suitable for ocean-lovers, fishermen, divers and those truly concerned with the environment and the ecology of our planet.  It is certainly a very different and unique form of permanent memorialization.  If you desire something entirely different and have a wish to contribute to the on-flowing ecology and life cycle of our planet once you are gone…then a memorial reef could prove to be your perfect memorial marker!

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How much does it cost to be interred in a memorial reef?

The costs for a memorial reef can vary quite significantly.  This can depend upon which organization you select to construct and site your reef artifact, what size and shape of the memorial reef you opt for, and whether you inter more than 1 set of cremated remains in a reef ball.

Eternal Reefs in Florida start at $2,495 but can cost up to $6,995.  This includes everything to construct your reef artifact, position it and GPS locate it, a bronze plaque sited on your memorial reef and certificates for the family members to keep.  An alternative site on the Pacific coast near the San Diego Bay offers memorial reef interment starting at $2,400.  There are also a couple of sites in Mexico where memorial reefs can be sited and these cost around $3,000.

There are some less expensive options that offer either a small tribute and keepsake reef artifact.  This type of reef ball is suitable for immersion in a fish tank or water feature.  It is also possible to have a memorial reef bespoke construction, and this is where the cremated remains are made into a reef artifact and then shipped back to you for placement.  Prices for this start at around $600 but this does not include shipping costs.

Where are memorial reefs located?

As mentioned above there are several memorial reef locations throughout the United States and Mexico.  In Florida, there are sites in Miami on the Atlantic coast and Sarasota and Pensacola on the Gulf side.  There is also a location off Galveston in Texas in the Gulf of Mexico, and sites off North Carolina, Maryland, and New Jersey on the East coast of the U.S.  On the Pacific coast there is a site at Los Coronado Islands near the border between the U.S. and Mexico.  Mexico locations are available in Cancun, Riviera Maya and in Acapulco.

Can cremation ashes be co-mingled in a memorial reef artifact?

Yes, some families choose to have family members cremated remains interred together in a reef memorial.  There is usually just a small surcharge for this type of memorial reef.  It is even possible to add the cremated remains of a dear departed furry loved one should a family desire this!

Can ashes be added to an individual family member’s memorial reef ball at a later date?

Due to the nature of how the memorial reef is constructed and placed, it is difficult to remove this living reef at a later date to add an extension to it without disrupting (and destroying) the aquatic life that it will now be supporting.  A second placement can be made adjacent to an existing memorial reef if a further family member wishes to join a loved one at a later date.

Can a memorial reef artifact be moved?

If need be a memorial reef can be uprooted and transported to another location.  However, this is not generally advised as this can be very destructive to the habitat that has flourished in the memorial reef.

What happens to a memorial reef if there is a hurricane?

As several of the reef locations are in areas where hurricanes can cause significant damage should they strike, there IS a possibility that a memorial reef could be moved on the ocean floor should it be subjected to extreme ocean conditions.  However, a memorial reef weighs around 350 to 400 pounds and is constructed in a dome/hexagonal way with voids of between 1.25 inches and 1.5 feet to allow the water to easily flow through.  The graduated, more solid base, helps to make the reef very stable on the ocean floor and the shape also disrupts the smooth flow of water around the reef, further enabling stability.

How can I request more information about interment in a memorial reef?

If you are interested in a memorial reef as a unique and eco-friendly lasting permanent legacy, please feel free to email us at with your specifications of size, type, and location of a memorial reef and we will provide you with an information pack and price list.


Written by

Sara is the Editor in Chief for US Funerals Online and has been researching and writing about the death care industry in the US for the last 15 years.