Will a Company Turn Human ‘Cremains’ into Artificial Ocean Reef?

It’s described as an “urn, ash scattering, and burial at sea” all in one.

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A company named Eternal Reefs will incorporate human remains into an environmentally safe cement mixture designed to create artificial marine reef formations.


One Florida company memorializes the lives of lost loved ones in a way that also gives back to the environment. Eternal Reefs, a nonprofit organization based in Sarasota, will incorporate the cremated human into an environmentally safe cement mixture that is designed to create artificial reef formations.

Eternal Reefs gained traction on the internet in May 2021 after USA Today ran a feature on the nontraditional practice. As of 2020, more than 2,000 Eternal Reefs have been placed in about 25 locations off the coasts of Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

“Eternal Reefs takes the cremated remains or ‘cremains’ of an individual and incorporates them into a proprietary, environmentally safe cement mixture designed to create artificial reef formations,” wrote the organization. “The Eternal Reefs are then placed in one of our permitted ocean locations selected by the individual, friend or family member.”

Eternal Reefs partners with The Reef Ball Foundation and Reef Innovations, two organizations that establish habitats for fish and other sea life using artificial reef systems. Known as reef balls, these hollow and round concrete balls are designed to replicate the natural substrata that coral typically attaches to and grows on.

A specialized concrete formula brings the pH content of the reef ball close to neutral. With the neutral pH content and a textured outer surface, the reef ball is the perfect medium to allow the micro-organisms (those little buds of life floating in the currents looking for a home) a place to land, burrow and mature, and start to propagate before predators can feed on them,” explained Eternal Reefs.

Depending on the marine conditions, growth on the reefs can occur within a few weeks of being placed.

Pricing for the artificial reefs varies depending on the size requested, and run between just under $4,000 to nearly $7,500. The smallest and most compact of the reefs, the Aquarius, measures 2 feet high by 3 feet wide, and weighs between 550 and 700 pounds. The largest option, the Mariner Eternal Reef, clocks in at 4 feet high by 5.5 feet wide, and weighs up to 4,000 pounds.