Eternal Reefs Preserve Marine Habitats and Memorialize the Passing of Loved Ones

Todays News

Eternal Reefs began pretty simply—a pair of college friends in the late 1980s with a mutual love for diving and environmental conservation. After years of diving in the Florida Keys, they noticed significant deterioration and degradation of the reefs they were visiting year after year. They realized the ocean's declining health needed help. 

Don Brawley and Todd Barber, co-founders of Eternal Reefs, came up with the idea to help preseve and restore the fragile ecosystems they loved to explore below by creating a man-made material and system. The “reef ball” was formed, designed to replicate the natural elements of ocean reefs that support coral and microorganism development. In partnership with The Reef Ball Foundation and Reef Innovations, Eternal Reefs quickly began to replenish local ecosystems in more ways than one. The artificial reef ball not only rehabilitates and rebuilds dying reefs, but in turn, adds new habitat sanctuary for marine organisms seeking food and/or shelter.

Today, the nonprofit has evolved as the dba of The Genesis Reef Project, a Sarasota-based 501c3, by using reef balls to not only protect local marine environments but as a neoteric memorialization tool dedicated to science and the celebration of life. Incorporating the cremated remains of passing loved ones, the nonprofit allows families to personalize a reef ball during the casting phase—incorporating sea glass, shells, hand prints and memorabilia in the damp concrete before it hardens to form a customized “pearl” that sits inside the ball. Also added is a bronze plaque with the name and dates of the individual engraved before becoming one with the reef itself, and revealed during the viewing ceremony. Families are invited to boat to the placement site to watch it deployed down to its final resting place under the water. For those who have served, loved ones may also place a flag on the memorial reef during military honors. 

For many seafaring families—including those of environmentalists, boaters, swimmers, adventurers, sailors or veterans who once served in the Navy—this offers an especially unique memorial choice to replace the otherwise end-of-life services like cremation urns, ash scatterings and in-ground tombstones. Families can also choose to have spouses, or other family members (even furry ones) placed together in the same reef. A process that seems as healing for families as it is for the Gulf, these permanent fixtures nestled in the sand create a colony of commemorative living legacies, all while enhancing many marine habitats—thus, gifting future generations to come. 

Currently, Silvertooth Reef in Sarasota near Big Pass is home to hundreds of Eternal Reefs memorials—making it the largest “green memorial” in the United States. Today, there are over 2,500 Eternal Reefs throughout 30 permitted locations off the East Coast of the US. 

Photo courtesy of Eternal Reefs Facebook

« View The Wednesday Jul 7, 2021 SRQ Daily Edition
« Back To SRQ Daily Archive

Read More

Local Organizations Bring Choral Singing as a Better Approach to Improving Speech and Voice Disorders in Parkinson's.

Local Organizations Bring Choral Singing as a Better Approach to Improving Speech and Voice Disorders in Parkinson's.

Jan 6, 2023

Let’s Get Physical

Let’s Get Physical

Jan 5, 2023

Sunshine From Darkness, a Non-Profit, Volunteer-Driven Organization

Sunshine From Darkness, a Non-Profit, Volunteer-Driven Organization

Jan 2, 2023

New Chief Operating Officer at HCA Florida Sarasota Doctors Hospital

New Chief Operating Officer at HCA Florida Sarasota Doctors Hospital

Dec 26, 2022