Also known as the Atlantis Reef, it is situated 5.2 km (3.25 miles) off the coast of Florida, at Key Biscayne. Designed to be a haven for marine wildlife, opportune location for divers and of, course, an underwater memorial cemetery or mausoleum it is safe to say that the reef has many jobs to fulfil.
Perhaps more interestingly, however, the reef where the ashes of cremated people can lie forever is also intended to be an art installation — specifically a unique interpretation of the legendary lost city, Atlantis
. The idea is that life is created after life as peoples' remains scattered over the reef allow marine wildlife to thrive. Cremated remains are mixed with cement to form new features within the reef before being ordained with a memorial plaque for the person.
Currently, the site covers over 65,000 square metres of sea floor and lies in a special management zone restricting the fishing of the area. Numerous challenges had to be overcome before the reef could be created and required special permits to be acquired from the EPA, DERM, NOAA, Florida Fish and Wildlife group and the Army Corps of Engineers. It also had to be shown to be capable of surviving a class 4 storm of the scale of the hurricane. This was voided, however, after Hurricane Andrew, a class 5 storm, swept through the site
while the permit was being reviewed, destroying much of the engineering already conducted and requiring a redesign of the core reef structure.
What the Neptune Society
has created with the Atlantis Reef is undoubtedly unique. Carved lions overlook the entrance to a underwater mausoleum which is decorated with intricate detail in a representation of the mythical city of Atlantis but built from the remnants of those who have sadly left us. It is certainly a special way to be remembered after death and one experienced by only a handful of people — only 850 remains are catered for in the first phase. The reef is now beginning to turn into a true reef, too, as organic coral structures have begun developing around certain areas of the site. Within a few years a real coral reef will have formed — supported by the cremated remains of those who were and are loved and missed.