Coral Reefs Made With Human Remains Are Restoring Florida’s Coastline

by : Hannah Smith on : 11 May 2021 16:20
Coral Reefs Made With Human Remains Are Restoring Florida's CoastlinePA Images/ Eternal Reefs

A Florida company working to save the state’s coral reefs has come up with an unorthodox solution – by filling the sea bed with balls containing human remains. 

It sounds like a pretty morbid business plan, but it’s apparently becoming a popular option among local residents and ocean lovers, with thousands of reef balls filled with human remains dotted around the sea bed just off the coast of eastern Florida.


Designed by Reef Innovations, the underwater tombstones are made specially to withstand currents, and with a special non-toxic concrete that can host marine creatures and serve as a place for coral to grow. The company has partnered with memorial company Eternal Reefs to drop almost 2,500 reef balls containing human ashes in locations along the eastern seaboard and gulf of Mexico.

Florida's coral reefs are under threat (PA Images)PA Images

The ashes themselves are mixed by family and friends into a central concrete ‘pearl’, before being topped with a fresh layer of concrete in which loved ones are invited to leave messages, handprints and special items.

Each reef ball also includes a plaque, with the finished ball dropped down to the seabed from a boat as part of a memorial service. According to an Insider report, the process costs around the same as a traditional cremation burial, making it an affordable, unique and environmentally friendly way to say goodbye to a loved one.


Conservationists have been dumping random junk into the sea off the Florida coastline for years now, with the idea being that the objects will provide a place for new coral to grow and replenish.

Everything from old coastguard boats to the cockpit of a jumbo jet has ended up at the bottom of the sea to try and help, but there’s a fear that the process may be doing more harm than good.

Eternal Reefs' memorials are filled with human remains (Eternal Reefs/YouTube)Eternal Reefs/YouTube

According to some experts, sinking heavy objects around reefs may actually be damaging the very coral they’re trying to protect. And that’s where these memorials come in, with the reef balls designed by Reef Innovations providing a place for coral to grow that is completely compatible with marine life.


It’s a necessary solution. As well as providing a habitat for all sorts of sea creatures, the coral reefs serve an important purpose for humans too, acting as a natural barrier to storm surges from hurricanes, which are set to become an increasingly deadly risk for the Florida coastline as it begins to reckon with the consequences of climate change.

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Topics: News, Florida, Marine Life


  1. Insider

    How coral reefs made with human remains are restoring Florida's coastline