The Neptune Memorial, also known as the Atlantis Memorial Reef, is an underwater cemetery located three miles off the coast of Key Biscayne, Florida. At over 16 acres in size, it is also the world’s largest man-made reef built to hold the remains of over 125,000 people. Persons buried in the Atlantis Memorial Reef are cremated and their ashes mixed with concrete to form 10-pound sculptures of starfish, shells, coral, and other Atlantis-themed shapes. A copper and bronze memorial plaque, etched with the person’s name, date of birth and death, is then attached to the object which is fixed to the reef to create the “features” that make the underwater cemetery so unique.
The man-made reef opened in 2007 after a number of difficulties, including three years spent waiting for permits (the Memorial Reef is located in International waters). After the extensive evaluation and permitting process, Neptune’s Memorial Reef was permitted by the EPA, DERM, NOAA, Florida Fish and Wildlife, and the Army Corps of Engineers (but only with a construction requirement that the reef be built to withstand the strongest storms for at least 100 years).
The Memorial Reef, located 40-feet underwater, features underwater roads leading to a central area with benches, arches five stories tall, five-ton columns on 50-ton bases, gates, and statues shaped like seashells, leaping dolphins, chariots, lions, and mythical figures (all containing the cremated remains of loved ones). Persons wishing to visit their loved ones are permitted to dive to the area and hang around as long as they wish.
The cost for “burial” in the Atlantis Memorial Reef runs $2,600 for a standard placement of cremated remains. A cremation and placement package runs about $4,000. Among those who have used the Neptune Society’s unique cremation and undersea burial service is the late Julia Child, the famous television chef.
Check out pictures of the Neptune (Atlantis) Memorial Reef in the picture gallery below.