The BBC correspondent Heather Alexander highlighted a feature this morning on Breakfast Time television about the Eternal Reefs company in the US who, for a fee of up to $6,495 (£4,000), will incorporate the ashes of a loved one into a concrete pod that is designed to encourage marine life and coral once deposited 3 miles off the coast. So far, around 1,000 such reef balls have been dropped on the ocean floor.
Families and friends are invited and encouraged to attend and participate in the casting of their loved ones. The process includes mixing the remains into an environmentally safe concrete reef mixture to create their Memorial Reef. According to the website, “Once the Memorial Reefs have been cast, family and friends are given the opportunity to put handprints and written messages in the damp concrete reef mixture. Many loved ones feel this is a wonderful way to stay in touch for eternity.”
I don’t regard this as reefer madness. The interviews with the relatives were very revealing about the way many felt that the deceased would still be alive as part of a living coral reef. This is a manifestation of essentialism and mind/body dualism that is so typical of the supersense, but one with good ecological intentions. As manager George Frankel said in the interview, “It’s a win-win situation for the relatives and the fish.”