Coral reefs are vital ecosystems. Home to around a quarter of all marine species, they also cleanse the water around them and act as barrier to coastal erosion during storms. But they’re also under threat. Things like pollution, global warming and overfishing are all causing reefs around the world to be bleached, damaged – or completely destroyed.
So, what if, when you die, you could become... a coral reef? Sure, you might be at the bottom of the sea and, logically, also that bit closer to hell. But your death would also actively contribute to restoring the world’s marine ecosystems. Sounds cool, right?
If that feels like your ideal funeral package, call up Florida-based funeral company Eternal Reefs. The firm started offering its ‘green burials’ – making reefs out of dead people – in 1998, and in the two decades since they’ve sunk over 2,500 new reefs off the east coast of the USA.
So, how do they do it? Well, Eternal Reefs take a person’s cremated remains (not a full corpse – that’d be pretty grim) and mix them with environmentally-friendly, pH-neutral concrete. Out of that mixture they create a ‘reef ball’, which is a kind of artificial reef. Each reef can be decorated with handprints and bronze memorial plaques before being lowered to the seafloor.
Reef balls are actually a pretty common – and successful – type of artificial habitat. Since the late 1990s, around 750,000 of them have been dropped to the seafloor in more than 70 countries across the globe. What’s more, they’re proven to actually work – some have been found to attract fish and see coral growth barely weeks after being lopped overboard.
Like having your ashes sent into space or made into a vinyl, you’d imagine that being made into one of those reefs is pretty expensive. But, surprisingly, it isn’t. The cost is around the same as a conventional funeral in the USA, starting from around $4,000 and rising up to $7,495.
So, what’s stopping you from being made into a coral reef and making the ocean that little bit healthier – apart from, of course, death itself? If you ask us, it certainly beats rotting away in some soggy field being eaten by worms, that’s for sure.
Plus: have you heard about Colombia’s rampaging cocaine hippos?