Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is an Eternal Reef?
A. An Eternal Reef is a designed reef of 100% natural cast concrete that can include the cremated remains of a loved one and/or pets. Eternal Reefs 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 life is to provide the opportunity for new life, and the living-breathing legacy of an Eternal Reef is a dignified and meaningful environmental memorial for a loved one. If the idea of creating a meaningful contribution that will help to heal the sea and benefit future generations represents a life well lived, an Eternal Reef is an ideal memorial choice. 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. How do you create an Eternal Reef?
A. The cremated remains are mixed into concrete to create a “Pearl”. Once the Pearl has been cast we place it aside and we add a fresh layer of concrete to the top of the Eternal Reef. The family can then personalize the top of the reef with hand prints, messages etched into the damp concrete and adding small mementos like military medals and religious symbols that are not harmful to the environment. We provide an assortment of sea shells to further personalize the Eternal Reef. After allowing the Pearl to cure overnight the Eternal Reefs staff adds the Pearl to a Eternal Reef by concreting into the center of the Reef Ball.

The entire Eternal Reefs process, from casting to final placement takes four days and includes four events, the casting; the viewing and the placement and dedication. 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. Our staff will handle as much, or all, of the process that you wish.

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. We encourage family and friends to come and be a part of the casting process. Participants mix the remains and pour the concrete into the mold and can place hand prints and write messages in the wet concrete.

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 in the creation of an Eternal Reef. Frequently families will scatter a portion of the cremated remains is a special location[s] and use the rest of the remains to create an Eternal Reef as a living legacy to their loved one’s life. 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 two sets of remains. Pets can be included in any of our individual reefs at no charge. There is a charge of $250 for each set of additional 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 a 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. Including pets with their two legged family members is the single most frequent request that we get. We are glad to do this with any of our individual Eternal Reefs at no additional cost. It is rare that we have a placement that does not include a pet with their family member. If there is a large amount of remains or you wish to have a plaque for the pets, there may be an additional charge.

Q. What is the viewing?
A. The day before the scheduled dedication of the reef site families and friends are invited to view the Eternal Reefs before they are placed in the ocean. Visitors take this opportunity to take photographs of the Eternal Reefs and make rubbings of the plaques. We provide sidewalk chalk so you can write messages on the memorials. If someone is due Military Honors for service to our country, the honors are presented at the viewing.

Q. What is the dedication?
A. On the scheduled dedication day, Eternal Reefs has a charter boat to take all the families to the reef site to witness the placement of the Eternal Reefs and to dedicate the site to their loved one. The cost of this charter is the only additional charge from Eternal Reefs and generally costs approximately $75.00 per person. We provide a small “Tribute Reef” for each family and flowers to decorate it. After the Eternal Reefs have all been placed we take the family boat and move it directly over the reef site. Each family is given time to dedicate the site and drop the Tribute Reef as their loved ones name is read. After all the families have dedicated the site Eternal Reefs staff dedicates the site to all the individuals being memorialized and closes the dedication by reading a passage from President John F. Kennedy’s speech “The Sea”.

Q. What is the placement of the Eternal Reef?
A. On the scheduled day, weather permitting, Eternal Reefs arranges to take the Eternal Reefs out to the reef site where they will be placed on the sea floor. Simultaneously, families and friends board the family boat which is chartered so families can observe their loved one’s Eternal Reef placement. This is a marine construction project and can be delayed by weather, equipment and permitting issues. Because of these conditions that 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 and it is a rare instance that the placement is not on the same day as the dedication.

Q. How do I arrange for Military Honors?
A. If someone is due his or her Military Honors all we need is a copy of their DD-214 discharge papers and will be glad to handle the arrangements. The arrangements would include acquiring the Honor Flag for the family and arranging for the honor guard to attend the viewing for the Flag folding and presentation to the family.

Q. How can I pre-fund my Eternal Reef?
A. Eternal Reefs offers a pre-funding program developed specifically for our families by Complete Financial Group.
Learn more

Q. Can I choose my location in advance?
A. We can’t commit to locations in advance. The nature of reef building requires permits to be issued by the Army Corp. of Engineers for specific purposes, materials, tonnage of those materials and time frames. Eternal Reefs only utilizes permitted locations designated for fishing and diving recreational purposes or for habitat development. These permits can both expire and be filled out with the permitted materials, causing them to no longer be available to us. Our commitment is to work with the family 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. Tell us what you would like to do and we will be glad to customize your portion of the cost of the project.

Q. Can I have a private placement?
A. Yes, depending on the location and the availability of permits we can do this. These are custom projects and need to be reviewed before we can determine the possibility and the cost. Please call us directly to discuss the possibility of having a private placement.

Q. Can I put my Eternal Reef with my loved one’s Eternal Reef?
A. In some cases we can do this. It is recommended that some of the loved one’s ashes be saved so that a communal memorial can be built with ashes from both parties. In many cases all of the memorials can reside in the same general location.

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 removal was allowed. Before making the decision to memorialize your loved one in an Eternal Reef, everyone should be comfortable with the belief that his or her loved one’s legacy will be living on with the creation of a Eternal Reef.

Q. Can I put an Eternal Reef anywhere?
A. No, Eternal Reefs can go only in properly permitted locations that are approved by the Federal, State, and local governments. We work with the families, and the state and local agencies to find the area of most need for the Eternal Reef.
View 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 like to create these Eternal Reef sites in vacation and retirement locations. We want families to have as many opportunities to come back and visit these sites. Locations also generally have 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. And, there needs to be sufficient interest in the location so that we can create really meaningful Eternal Reef systems made up of several reef balls to create a real benefit to the environment.

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. The Eternal Reefs provide a nurturing environment for fish and other forms of sea life that are critical to the environment.

Q. How often do you check on the Eternal Reefs?
A. We are currently working with our Not-For-Profit partner, The Reef Ball Foundation to establish a schedule and fund the periodic monitoring and documenting of Eternal Reef sites. All profits from the sales of mementos, photography and grief support materials will go to the funding of these monitoring efforts. Please check our website periodically for updates.

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 cremation urns end up on a shelf or in a closet for the next generation to deal with. 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.

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 families and individuals want a place to visit when remembering a family member or loved one. Eternal Reefs are located in a specific place known to the family and friends. It provides a living memorial to visit, which does not exist when there is a scattering of ashes.

Q. How will I know where the Eternal Reef is located?
A. With every Eternal Reef the executor of the estate receives two memorial certificates that identify the longitude and latitude of the memorial.

Q. Can I visit the location of the Eternal Reef?
A. Yes, we provide the families with the exact GPS coordinates so they can visit the reef site whenever they wish. You can visit by boat to fish or dive on the Eternal Reef.

Q. Will an Eternal Reef move?
A. With over 700,000 Reef Balls placed worldwide, the Eternal Reef design has a proven track record and has passed every government test for stability. During the devastating hurricane seasons of 1998 and 2004 many of our sites were hit directly by storms and all of our reefs remained in place.

Q. How long will an Eternal Reef last?
A. Marine wildlife begins growing quickly on a Eternal Reef and it soon becomes a permanent part of the ocean landscape. We start with a unique concrete formula and add special additives that increase its strength from 3000 PSI to 10,000 PSI. Next we create a special surface texture that encourages growth of various types and sizes of marine life. This sea growth, which quickly covers the Eternal Reef, not only becomes a protective layer on the memorial but also enriches the environment.

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″ Bronze plaque on which an inscription can be placed.

Q. Can I go through my funeral home to purchase an Eternal Reef?
A. If your funeral home is already a provider you can go directly through them and have them handle the paperwork and send us the remains. If they are not already a provider you can ask them to send us the remains and we will work with them to properly memorialize your loved one.