Florida's Exclusive Underwater Burial Ground
KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. - The closest thing to the Lost City of Atlantis may be located three miles off the coast of south Florida.
Forty feet below the surface is a man-made, pristine reef where, several times a month, divers come to deposit stone urns containing ashes of the recently departed. This underwater burial ground near Miami was created by the Neptune Society, says Martha Porter, one of the group's counselors.
"The deep-sea divers go down with your ashes mixed with cement, and they place it in selection spots you made. So, if you have an affinity for water, it's a great way to go - and people love it."
In addition to providing a permanent legacy for those who loved the ocean, the Neptune Memorial Reef is attracting recreational scuba divers, marine biologists, students, researchers and ecologists from all over the world. Porter says visits to the reef are free and accessible to all visitors.
The Neptune Memorial Reef is the world's largest man-made reef. When complete, it will have transformed more than 16 acres of barren ocean floor. The project is environmentally sound, Porter says, and meets the strict guidelines of the Environmental Protection Agency, Florida Fish and Wildlife Department and Army Corps of Engineers.
Making the reef a final resting place, she says, is a simple process for anyone.
"That's the whole key. We want the family to actually celebrate a person's life. We don't want to have to see them go through all the mess in handling everything that has to be done."
Among those who have used the Neptune Society's unique cremation and undersea burial service is the late Julia Child, the famous television chef.
More information is online at neptunesociety.com.