Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is an Eternal Reef?
A. An Eternal Reef is part of a designed reef system created from individual reef balls made of environmentally safe, marine grade concrete that includes the cremated remains of a loved one and/or pets. Eternal Reefs quickly assimilate into the natural ocean environment and create new marine habitats for fish and other forms of sea life.

Q. Why should I consider Eternal Reefs as a memorial option?
A. We believe the greatest celebration of a life well-lived is to give back after life. For people who choose cremation, an Eternal Reef offers a dignified, meaningful and creative environmental physical memorial that benefits future generations and heals both the sea and the soul. As President John F. Kennedy said, “We are tied to the ocean, and when we go back to the sea…we are going back from whence we came.”

Q. What is the Eternal Reefs process?
The entire Eternal Reefs process takes four days and includes the casting, the viewing, and the dedication and placement on the ocean floor. We like to say that the Eternal Reefs process is designed to help heal both the sea and the soul. Participation by family and friends is encouraged but not required and our staff can handle as much or as little of the process as desired.

Q. How do you create an Eternal Reef?
A. We call it a “casting.” Eternal Reefs brings a pre-cast reef ball to the casting site where families have the opportunity, if they wish, to mix the remains into concrete to form a “pearl,” a center piece that fits inside the reef ball. After the pearl is cast, a fresh layer of specialized concrete covers the top of the reef ball and families may personalize it with hand prints, written messages and other mementos in the damp concrete. We provide a variety of seashells, colored glass beads and small charms to supplement other mementos as desired, but no plastic or anything toxic to the environment can be included.

Many families tell us this is a meaningful way to stay in touch for eternity.

Q. Can I participate in the casting of the Eternal Reef?
A. Absolutely, we have found that being involved in the creation of the Eternal Reef is a very rewarding experience and is an important step in dealing with the loss of a loved one. Many families tell us it’s as healing for them as for the sea.

Q. Is this appropriate for children to attend and participate?
A. Absolutely. In fact, most parents tell us this is the perfect way to introduce a child to a loss. There is no body, no whispering, no open hole in the ground. Many parents tell us it’s a celebration that’s more like an arts and crafts project than a traditional funeral.

Q. Do you need all of the cremated remains to make an Eternal Reef?
A. No, we can use all, some or none of the cremated remains to create an Eternal Reef. Some families choose to scatter a portion of the cremated remains in a special location and use the rest to create an Eternal Reef. Some religions require the cremated remains to be kept together and we can accommodate these needs.

Q. Can I place more than one set of cremated remains in an Eternal Reef?
A. Yes, our Mariner Eternal Reef can accommodate up to four sets of remains and the Nautilus Eternal Reef can accommodate up to two sets of remains.  (The Aquarius is designed for one set of remains.)

Q. Both my parents want to be together in the same Eternal Reef. How can we do this if they pass away at different times?
A. This is a frequent request and in most cases the family will take a portion of the remains of the first to pass and create an Eternal Reef in their honor to facilitate closure with the loss. The family will hold onto the rest of the remains until the surviving spouse passes away and then will combine both sets of remains into an Eternal Reef where they will be together for eternity.

Q. Can you include pets in an Eternal Reef?
A. This is the single most frequently asked question and the answer is yes. In fact, it is rare that we have a project that does not include pets. As pet lovers and owners we understand the attachment people have with their pets. We are happy to include the remains of house pets with their two-legged family members at no additional cost. Some limitations may apply so call us to inquire further.

Q. What is the viewing?
A. The third day is the viewing which typically takes place at the casting location. The viewing is the first time the finished Eternal Reef is unveiled for families. Families have the opportunity to take pictures of their loved one’s Eternal Reef and we provide rubbing wax and paper to make rubbings of the bronze plaque. We provide children’s sidewalk chalk to write messages and draw pictures on the Eternal Reef memorial.

Q. Do you provide military funeral honors?
A. Yes, during the viewing, military honors are presented to the families of eligible service men and women. The presentation of military funeral honors is a particularly moving and cherished experience for all in attendance.

Q. How do I arrange for military honors?
A. If someone is due military honors all we need is a copy of that veteran’s DD-214 discharge papers and we can handle the arrangements. This includes acquiring the honor flag for the family, arranging for the honor guard to attend the viewing, coordinating the flag folding and family presentation activities.

Q. What is the dedication and placement?
A. On the fourth day family members and friends travel aboard a chartered boat to the Eternal Reef site. As the family boat travels, we provide fresh flowers to decorate tribute reefs, miniature reef balls which we also provide.

The placement boat carrying the Eternal Reefs meets the family boat at the reef site and positions and prepares each Eternal Reef. As each reef is readied to be placed on the ocean floor, the individual’s name is announced and the family witnesses their loved one’s reef lowered to the ocean floor as a final memorial.

Once all the Eternal Reefs have been safely placed, the family boat is positioned over the site. Each family is given the opportunity to come to the rail and individually dedicate the reef site to their loved one. Families say their final goodbyes and finish by dropping the tribute reefs into the sea. The Eternal Reefs staff then dedicates the site to all the individuals being memorialized that day, closes the dedication by reading a passage from President John F. Kennedy’s speech “The Sea,” the ship’s horn sounds, and the family boat returns to shore.

Please Note: This is a marine construction project and can be delayed by weather, equipment and permitting issues. Because these conditions are out of our control, we cannot guarantee that the Eternal Reefs will be placed the same day we dedicate the reef site, but will make every reasonable effort to do so. The safety of our families and friends is paramount and it is a rare instance that the placement does not occur on the same day as the dedication.

Q. How can I pay now for my Eternal Reef to plan for the future?
A. . The Living Legacy Program (LLP) from Eternal Reefs helps families and individuals who wish to donate for their Eternal Reef now, at today’s donation levels, to plan for the future. LLP planning can remove financial stress for you and your family at a sensitive and vulnerable time and assure your end of life wishes. Additionally, as an approved 501c3 non-profit organization, your donation to Eternal Reefs may be eligible for a charitable tax deduction. [Please check with your tax advisor.]

Access more information about the Living Legacy Program.

Q. Can I choose my location in advance?
A. Unfortunately, we can’t commit to locations in advance. The nature of reef building requires the use of federal, state and local permits that periodically expire. As much as we’d like to guarantee a location, none of the Eternal Reefs programs, including the LLP, can commit to any specific site until the time of need. Our commitment is to work with families at the time of need to identify the most appropriate location for their loved one’s Eternal Reef.

Q. Can I have more than one Eternal Reef cast for my loved one?
A. Absolutely, we can include additional Eternal Reefs for the same memorial project. Call us for a customized project.

Q. Can I have a private placement?
A. Yes, depending on the location and the availability of permits we can do this. Currently Sarasota and Ft. Lauderdale/Miami are the locations where we offer these custom projects. Please contact us for pricing and details.

Q. Can I put my Eternal Reef with my loved one’s Eternal Reef?
A. We continue placing Eternal Reefs memorials on reef sites until they are no longer available to us by permitting. So while we are unable place a reef right next to your loved one, you may be in close proximity.

Q. Can we retrieve the Eternal Reef at a later time?
A. No, the Eternal Reefs are donated to the permitted site. The Eternal Reef would not be serving its purpose of improving the ecosystem of the sea if we could remove them.

Q. Can I put an Eternal Reef anywhere?
A. No, all Eternal Reefs project sites are permitted through a number of federal, state and local agencies. Eternal Reefs project sites are all vacation destinations with active artificial reef programs and we work with the families, and the state and local agencies to find the area of most need for the Eternal Reef.

Access current dedication locations.

Q. How do you choose the locations of Eternal Reef sites?
A. There are several factors that go into how we determine locations. We want families to have as many opportunities to come back and visit, so we like to create these Eternal Reef sites in vacation locations. Locations also need the necessary infrastructure of marine equipment, barges, tugs and cranes that we need along with hotels and restaurants for our families. Permits that meet our requirements must also be available.

Q. Why build an Eternal Reef?
A.Over the years, man has done a great deal of damage to the seas and oceans of our world. Many natural reefs have been destroyed and over fished. Establishing new reefs helps to take the pressure off the natural reef systems and help repair the damage that has been done by mankind. Eternal Reefs provide a nurturing environment for fish and other forms of sea life that are critical to the marine environment.

Q. How does choosing an Eternal Reef differ from choosing a cremation urn?
A. Frequently families chose a cremation urn thinking of it as a final resting place for a loved one’s cremated remains. Sometimes these urns end up on a shelf or in a closet for the next generation to find. An Eternal Reef is a permanent memorial that places the cremated remains in the ocean and creates new life as reef habitat for fish, turtles and other forms of sea life. Having such a permanent, physical location allows families to visit and many choose to dive and boat to the site of their loved one’s Eternal Reef.

Q. How is an Eternal Reef different than ash scattering?
A. We frequently hear from families who can’t bring themselves to scatter a loved one’s ashes. Many want a place to visit and an Eternal Reef provides that living memorial location to go to, an option not available when ashes are scattered. Families have even told us “Dad asked for his ashes to be scattered, but if he had known about Eternal Reefs, I know he would choose this option instead.”

Q. How will I know where the Eternal Reef is located?
A. With every Eternal Reef, we provide two memorial certificates with GPS coordinates noting the longitude and latitude of the memorial.

Q. Can I visit the location of the Eternal Reef?
A. Yes. Eternal Reefs are in public reef sites, open for fishing, diving and recreational use. Families have the GPS coordinates so they can visit whenever and as often as they wish.

Q. Are Eternal Reefs stable in the marine environment?
A. Reef balls have 30+ years of documented stability in the marine environment. Over these years, reef balls have been hit directly by category 3, 4 and 5 hurricanes and there is no indication of any significant movement. With over 1 million reef balls placed worldwide, the Eternal Reef design has a proven track record and, in fact during the devastating hurricane seasons of 1998 and 2004, many of our sites were hit directly by storms and all our reefs remained in place.

Q. How long will an Eternal Reef last?
A. Eternal Reefs are permanent additions to the marine environment and significant natural ocean growth appears in a few short months. Mother Nature loves the reef design and quickly ‘adopts’ an Eternal Reef as her own, adding marine life and growth and welcoming the structure as a part of the natural reef system.

Q. What kinds of plaques are available?
A. We only utilize bronze plaques. Bronze holds up to the corrosiveness of seawater and remains intact for centuries. All individual reefs come with a 6-inch bronze plaque on which a custom inscription can be placed.