Underwater memorial holds the cremains of the dead while it supports a living ecosystem.

The Cemetary 6 Feet Under Water

The Cemetary 6 Feet Under Water

Atlas Obscura
Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
July 8 2013 12:00 PM

Sleep With the Fishes at the Neptune Memorial Reef

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A few miles east of Miami lies an underwater city. A pair of lions guard its entrance columns, which guard stone roads, soaring gates, and crumbling ruins. Did an ancient civilization once live here? No. The "city" is a cemetery, and it was built in 2007.

Conceived as a living reef and modeled after the lost city of Atlantis, the Neptune Memorial Reef was created by cremation-services provider the Neptune Society. Anyone wishing to bury their loved one at the city can hand over the cremated remains—in person or by mail—to be mixed with cement and sand, poured into a shell- or starfish-shaped mold, and added to the reef. Family members are welcome to participate in the process, either by scuba diving or watching from a boat above. Post-burial, they may visit the reef at any time for free.

If you want your remains, or those of a family member, to become part of the underwater city, you'll need to decide which part of the reef to join. There are 15 burial locations, ranging from standard placements (road railings; the "Fish Habitat Bench") to premium (lion columns; gatekeeper columns) to exclusive (the Welcome Feature Centerpiece). Shipwreck diver Bert Kilbride, once listed as the oldest living scuba diver in the Guinness World Records, is interred in a place of honor at the top of one of the entry columns at the reef gate.

The Neptune Society has big plans for its undersea cemetery. Designed to attract fish and promote the growth of coral and marine organisms, the memorial reef will gradually take on a more authentic ancient-city look. The society's ultimate goal is a 16-acre city containing the remains of 125,000 people. Currently, the reef is a quarter of an acre and is the final resting place of a few hundred.

Underwater architecture: 

View Neptune Memorial Reef in a larger map