Burial AlternativesFuneral PlanningFuneralsGreen FuneralsAlternative Burials: Memorial Reefs

January 8, 2020Obitia

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In recent years, burial options have become more individualized with more environmentally friendly options available to reflect a change in how individuals and their families want to commemorate their own death or that of a loved one.

The growth in popularity of non-traditional burial methods means that there are now more options to cater to the kind of celebration and legacy a loved one may have wanted.

Some choices today include a space burial, a natural burial with a bios urn, or even an ancient Egyptian burial. One of the most interesting and environmentally friendly options is incorporating cremated remains into part of a memorial reef.


What is a Memorial Reef?

Memorial reefs are artificial reefs, whose underlying structure is created from the cremated human remains of an individual. These reefs are made up of numerous pieces (usually in the shape of hollow spheres with holes in them) of specialized environmentally-friendly cement (which reduces the carbon footprint of the burial) that is mixed with the cremated remains. Because coral and other aquatic life flourish on rocky outcrops, these reefs provide a perfect artificial environment for coral and other plants and animals to inhabit and thrive.


How does it work?

Each memorial reef provider will have a slightly different burial method, but all accept cremated remains from a funeral home or cremated remains that have been kept in an urn for any period of time. While there are different methods and structure types, the cremated remains are always combined with eco-friendly concrete and used to form a piece of the reef or a “reef ball”.

The reef ball is then taken by boat out to the reef’s location and installed or deployed by divers into position among numerous other reef balls. The reef balls form the underlying structure of the reef. Many companies place a GPS tracker and commemorative plaque, instead of a headstone, where the reef ball is placed. Once installed, coral and other organisms will begin to cover and grow on the structure, while fish will be able to swim and hide among the crevices and shelter created by the reef balls. Memorial reefs have a large and positive impact on local wildlife because many of the locations chosen have very low fish stock due to over-fishing and the effects of climate change.

One of the most memorable aspects of a memorial reef is the ability to visit the reef by boat and even scuba diving or snorkel when to the reef. These reefs are usually open to the public and allow for divers, students, and scientists to observe and enjoy the wildlife that calls the memorial reef home.

Blog Picture - Memorial Reef Balls
Memorial Reef International’s reef balls made from cremated remains and cement. (Source: Memorial Reef International)

How much does it cost?

The cost of having your loved one’s remains included in a memorial reef can range between $600.00 and $9,950.00. The biggest determining factor is how many sets of remains will be included in the reef ball or reef structure, as that will make the reef ball larger and more difficult to install by the dive team.



Today there are many options for alternative burials that weren’t available before. Cremated remains can be incorporated into beautiful structures to help our eco-system thrive. Perhaps your loved one loved nature or the ocean, or you’re simply looking for a more meaningful way to honor them. If you are interested in memorial reefs for yourself or a loved one, please read more about Memorial Reef International. They are a world leader in building memorial reefs around the United States, Mexico, and many other areas of the world.




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