1. What is the Neptune Memorial Reef™?
The Neptune Memorial Reef™,is the largest man-made reef ever conceived and provides an extraordinary living resting place for those who choose cremation. It is an environmental and ecological masterpiece, a superb laboratory for marine biologists, students, researchers and ecologists, and an aesthetically exquisite world-class destination for scuba divers, snorkelers and visitors from all walks of life. When our 16-acre site is completed, it will provide a beautiful and lasting resting place for over 250,000 individuals.
2. How does this process compare to cremation memorialization in other, more traditional places?
A placement in the Neptune Memorial Reef becomes a building block and home to coral, sponge and other invertebrate life; it “Creates life, after life.
3. Are there similar projects in other parts of the country or world?
This is the only project in the world that creates a contiguous 16-acre sculpted underwater world. There are other companies and projects offering placement of cremated remains in functional “reef balls” or other independent reef structures in places throughout the country (from New Jersey to Florida to California and Oregon). There are no other projects in the world that compare in scale, beauty, design, recreation or environmental benefits to the Neptune Memorial Reef.
4. Can couples or families all be together?
Yes, , we can help you select a private column or feature that is just right for your family. Also, the newest phase of the reef was designed with raised and recessed areas to designate family groupings of 2, 4, 6 and up.
5. Can more than one person be mixed together in
Yes. Most placement styles can accommodate the ashes of more than one individual, some will hold up to 6. There is a comingling fee for each additional set of cremated remains.
6. Can my pet be mixed with me in my placement?
Yes. the Neptune Reef is the only place in Florida and much of the country where pets can be in the same cemetery. They can also be mixed in the placement with their human family at no cost or even have their own placement, at regular cost.
7. How many remains have been placed in the Neptune Memorial Reef™ so far?
Thirty percent of the existing Neptune Memorial Reef structures have been sold to date yet only five percent of the actual placements have been fulfilled to memorialize a loved one. Most sales are in the form of prearrangement or pre-need, meaning that arrangements are purchased and finalized prior to the end of life event. At the time of prearrangement, the location of the placement is reserved.
8. What are the demographics of people who purchase a Neptune Memorial Reef placement?
People who want more than just a sea scattering but a permanent place to remember or visit their loved one tend to choose the reef as a final resting place. We are also the choice of environmentally conscious individuals who do not wish to take anything else from this earth, but to give back to the
environment. They love the idea of new life being created in one of the greenest and most environmentally friendly final resting places on the planet. “Creating life, after life.”
9. Why and how was the Neptune Memorial Reef™ concept created?
The original idea was to create a new reef system in a barren area of the ocean, one that was lacking this important habitat for new marine life. The goal was to create a unique and exciting dive destination, while showcasing the artwork of renowned Keys sculptor and artist Kim Brandell. The idea to incorporate cremated remains was recognized as an opportunity to provide a unique final resting place for those who loved the ocean and cared for the environment while also providing a means to fund the continued growth of the Reef to achieve our vision of creating the largest man-made reef in the world.
10. What is Neptune’s connection to the sea?
For centuries, people have been connected spiritually with the ocean and have favored sea scatterings for their final resting place. Neptune Memorial Reef brings a new dimension to this connection by offering a permanent place in the ocean. And, it goes a step further by creating and sustaining marine life, thereby allowing a person to contribute to the environment and “Create life, after life.”
11. I have ashes from a family member in an urn at home. Can I put them in the reef?
Yes. Thousands of people have the remains of loved ones at home. While it can be nice to keep them, placing them in a permanent memorial may actually relieve future generations from the burden of safeguarding these remains. The reef is a respectful and environmentally beneficial option built for that purpose.
12. How do I know that my ashes, or those of my loved one, are really put there?
Extreme care is taken throughout the process to ensure that it is virtually impossible to make a mistake with the identity or location of cremated remains and deployment. Cremated remains are kept in vaults from receipt to deployment, and employ a series of redundant measures to ensure that the chain is unbroken. Also an extensive set of photos of the mixing and deployment are included with all placements. Family members are always welcome at our studio in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, where they can observe the preparations of the placement, and even be present at the reef site on the day of deployment. Local professional dive boat operators are available to take your family and friends out during the deployment. Scheduling of the deployment activities at the reef site are subject to change, depending on weather and sea conditions.
13. How does the Neptune Memorial Reef™ impact the environment?
As a permit requirement, the Neptune Reef was engineered to encourage the growth of the entire marine eco-system: every shape, texture, profile and depth was designed for a particular animal group. Because of that, the Neptune Reef was designated the Most Prolific Reef in Florida, natural or artificial. It gives back to the environment by creating an ecosystem in which many species will thrive. The reef provides habitat for a variety of organisms that otherwise would not be present in these waters. These marine organisms range from coral, lobster and sea urchins to barracuda, stingrays and snapper, and everything in between. This reef, with its 16 acres complete, will save as much as 200 acres of dry land. That amount of land would house 240,000 average size cemetery plots (9’x4’). When complete, the Neptune Reef will become a barrier reef providing wave break and providing protection for the vulnerable sea turtle nesting grounds of Key Biscayne. The intangible benefit of reef development study conducted on the site, along with increased awareness by divers is immeasurable. Planet Earth needs more Replacement Artificial Reefs, not just dive sites. All research, surveys and environmental impact studies done at our reef are shared in the marine science community to promote effective deployment of more reefs worldwide.
14. Do you have security?
The 16 acres of Neptune Memorial Reef is a designated Special Management Zone (SMZ) and is monitored regularly by federal, state and local law enforcement. Thus, in the eyes of the law, the reef is a protected area. The intent of the SMZ designation is to restrict the use of highly efficient or selective fishing gear within the boundaries of the Key Biscayne Artificial Reef Site, there by limiting the potential impacts of unrestrained fishing pressure, while maintaining most recreational uses of the site. Restricted Activities Within the boundaries of the KeyBiscayne SMZ, the following types of fishing gear are prohibited:
• Fish traps • Bottom long lines
• Spear guns of any type, including slings and pole spears
(Source: Miami Dade County Department of Environmental Resources Management
Website: http://www.miamidade.qoviderm/reef special mqt zone.asp)
Fishing is allowed, but it is very restricted. The main activity encouraged is diving. No spear fishing or anchoring is allowed anywhere in the reef zone. These restrictions are readily enforced by marine law enforcement authorities.
15. What kind of regulations are there for reefs of this kind?
Construction and deployment of an artificial reef of this kind requires a plethora of regulations and permits. It took our team four years to secure permission to develop Neptune Memorial Reef, with the primary permit to build being issued by the Army Corps of Engineers to the Department of Environmental Resource Management (DERM) of Miami-Dade County. All reefs are protected from molestation, and it is illegal to even touch live coral or take the skeleton of dead coral from the ocean. The collection of coral in any form is protected and regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora known as CITES. The Neptune Memorial Reef project is environmentally sound and meets the strict guidelines and the permitting of DERM, EPA, NOAA, Florida Fish and Wildlife and the Army Corps of Engineers and has received special recognition for its contributions to the environment by the Green Burial Council.
16. How are families visiting their loved ones at Neptune Memorial Reef?
Boat activity at the site is frequent. Families charter boats or take their own to snorkel, dive or simply be at the site. Some family members have also gone a step further and become dive certified and visit once a year to dive the site, see their loved one and see the reef’s growth progress. Many of our local families dive the reef on a regular basis to visit their loved ones. One family in particular has been out five times in as many months, which they say is more often than they would have visited a cemetery. Another large family comes out to the reef with a 70-foot sail boat and a few motor boats to spend the day with their dad, uncle, great grandpa Bert and to snorkel, dive and swim. In addition to families, the reef is busy on the weekends with private and commercial dive boats exploring the underwater city; the Neptune Memorial Reef is not a lonely place, it’s the most visited dive site in Miami.
17. What formal burial ceremonies does Neptune Memorial Reef provide?
We allow the family to decide upon and perform the type of service they want to have on the day of deployment. Most find comfort in placing a floating wreath and flowers in the water as a way to say their final goodbye. Many take advantage of snorkeling and diving as they celebrate their loved ones life. Some create a small ceremony while at the site by arranging clergy to say a few words and playing their loved one’s favorite music with family and friends.
18. How often is Neptune Memorial Reef staff at the site and what is the schedule of deployment?
Weather permitting, our Neptune Memorial Reef divers visit the reef regularly, with deployments done up to twelve times per month. During times when our staff is at the site, plaques are cleaned when required to ensure they are visible at all times. This is the principal maintenance activity allowed, given that the site is a growing artificial reef ecosystem and must not be disturbed with human interaction and traditional maintenance activities.
19. How do loved ones visit the site if they are not divers?
Weather permitting, boat charters and dive tour operators are available for hire to visit the reef site throughout the year. Neptune Memorial Reef’s website also offers access for families to view a photo of an individual’s placement online. In the future, we will enhance that capability to provide more multimedia interaction, such as video updates. Just visit www.NMReef.com, and go to “Memorials” tab. We will be constantly updating this page with new photos of new residents of the Neptune Memorial Reef.
20. What has been the reaction to the Neptune Memorial Reef in the diving community? How many divers are visiting the reef?
The reaction in the dive community has been exceptional. They see how this can potentially be the premier dive site in the world. When they dive it, they come up so impressed and exhilarated with the experience. Excitement grows as they imagine the spectacle of the final structure, with its impressive size, the number of people that will be memorialized and the exponential growth in sea life and biodiversity. There are three dive boats in the area that take trips to the Neptune Memorial Reef several times a week and along with private boats; we generally see over 100 divers a week and as many as 300.
21. How easy is it to access the reef for divers or non-divers?
We partner with the local dive community and there are currently 3 dive boats that visit Neptune Reef almost daily. Our GPS coordinates are available in all of our materials and other diver references,
including the internet. The reef can be easily accessed by private or charter boats and 6 mooring buoys are provided in this anchor free zone, along with 2 lighted marker buoys and 2 decent/assent line buoys attached directly to the reef. Of course, being 3.25 miles offshore means that marine conditions should be monitored closely to ensure a safe and comfortable visit.
22. Will the ashes of my loved one eventually erode/wash away?
It’s hard to know what will happen eventually but there is no evidence of erosion of any kind after the first thirteen years. Coral and other organisms make the placement their home andprotect it by covering it in growth.
23. How can the family be present during the deployment of their loved one’s placement to the reef?
To participate in the deployment, families have the option to charter the dive boat from the Miami Beach Marina. The boat accommodates up to thirty passengers but we often have two or three. We provide scheduling for reservations and all the information needed for your convenience. When appropriate, amilitary salute may be arranged at the sea wall.
24. May family members be present for the mixing of their loved one’s placement?
The family is welcome to be present during the mixing of the placement and is scheduled at the family’s convenience. The family may also help with the mixing, add trinkets or a note to the mix or leave handprints on the placement. In lieu of being present, we include pictures of the mixing in the photo package.
25. What documentation does the family receive when the deployment of the placement is complete?
The family will receive a Completion Certificate of Deployment, a perpetual memorial page, and a photo package consisting of pictures of the mixing, deployment, the deployed placement and a tour of the reef.
26. May the family members hire a videographer to film the mixing and/or deployment of the placement?
Yes. There are several videographers that work with us or the family may use their own. We also offer the option of unedited or minor edited videos
27. What is the timeframe from the time Neptune receives the cremated remains until the placement
Contractually, the deployment can take up to one (1) year. Typically it is done within 90 days depending on the season the cremated remains are received. It may take longer to deploy in the winter due to unpredictable sea conditions.
28. May family members dive with Neptune Memorial Reef divers during deployment?
Certified scuba divers with a dive buddy are welcome to dive with the Neptune Memorial Reef divers during deployment. There is also a level of involvement in the process that may be available depending on the placement type.
29. Will the placement be visible or distinguishable after many years?
Plaques installed thirteen years ago are still very much visible and distinguishable, some more than others depending on the location of the plaque (some areas encourage more and faster growth). The plaques are engraved with a much deeper and wider groove than normal to make them easier to read under water. Plaques are made of copper, which is best at resisting invertebrate growth.
30. Will the Neptune Reef be destroyed during a large hurricane?
One of our unique permit requirements was that we engineer the Neptune Memorial Reef to withstand the “100 year storm.” The strongest storm in South Florida in 100 years was Hurricane Andrew which was a category 5, the most powerful storm on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.
31. How/where are the cremated remains stored while in the possession of The Neptune Memorial Reef™?
The cremated remains are stored in a locked vault at our office until the mixing is completed, then in our studio with state of the art security system. All have very limited access.