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Rebuilding coral reefs using human remains - video

Listen to this article A coastal restoration company in the state of Florida is using a very unconventional solution. One of the ingredients used to build coral reefs is human remains. It sounds quite unbelievable and somewhat macabre, but apparently the way works. What’s more, the solution is gaining popularity among local residents and ocean
Published: May 19, 2021 - 09:00
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 22:35
Rebuilding coral reefs using human remains – video
Listen to this article

A coastal restoration company in the state of Florida is using a very unconventional solution. One of the ingredients used to build coral reefs is human remains.

It sounds quite unbelievable and somewhat macabre, but apparently the way works. What’s more, the solution is gaining popularity among local residents and ocean lovers. As a result, thousands of special reef balls containing human remains have already appeared underwater. These form the foundation for rebuilding reefs on Florida‘s east coast.

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special reef balls made of non-toxic concrete
Specially prepared balls of non-toxic concrete and human ashes Photo: Eternal Reef

Theunderwater tombstones were designed by engineers from Reef Innovations, who used non-toxic concrete (and human ashes). As a result, it is designed to withstand the clash with underwater currents and provide an excellent substrate for local flora and fauna, including coral growth, among others.

Reef Innovations, in partnership with Eternal Reef, plans to sink nearly 2,500 reef balls containing human remains. These will be placed on the ocean floor along the entire east coast of Florida and in the Gulf of Mexico, on the other side of the peninsula.

Unconventional burial

Family and loved ones create a concrete ‘pearl’ with their own hands from the ashes of a deceased person. The company’s employees then cover it with a fresh layer of concrete, on which loved ones can leave a message or, for example, handprints. Thus prepared human remains are almost ready to be placed on the ocean floor.

Each reef ball is also given a special plaque. Reef Innovations staff then sink the whole thing from the deck of a boat in a memorial ceremony. According to a report by Insider, the whole process costs about the same as a traditional funeral with cremation. So it is an affordable, environmentally friendly and very unique way of burial.

coral reef restoration florida
This unusual way of burial is becoming very popular Photo: Eternal Reef

Some experts also claim that, unlike artificial reefs created from various shipwrecks, tanks or underground cars, reef balls are light and completely neutral for the environment. They thus provide the best conditions for coral growth and restoration of local ecosystems.

In Florida, people have long realised that any underwater habitat for life is vital. It is the strong and healthy coral reefs that provide a natural protective barrier. It is they that protect the coast and its inhabitants from the impact of storms and hurricanes, which pose a deadly threat. It should come as no surprise, then, that efforts to protect and enhance coral reefs have been underway in the region for years.

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About author

Marcin Pawełczyk
Marcin’s journey with diving has been an adventure. Starting as a recreational diver, he soon found himself drawn to the fascinating stories and mysteries of Baltic wrecks. After gaining experience, Marcin decided to go beyond just leisurely exploration and took his training up a notch by completing the TMX course, allowing him to explore even deeper and uncover the secrets of inaccessible places. His next challenge has been cave diving, where he is honing his skills to become a certified diver. Not content to simply take in the breathtaking beauty of underwater life, Marcin has also embraced underwater photography since 2018, capturing stunning shots that bring these worlds alive for those who are unable to experience them first-hand. Marcin’s passion for the underwater has taken him far and is sure to continue doing so as he dives into new depths and captures breathtaking images.
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