George Frankel, founder of Eternal Reefs, delivers a thought-provoking overview of his company’s mission to preserve and protect the reef environment for future generations through the use of memorialization. Frankel’s company works with families that have chosen cremation to create an artificial reef known as a reef ball that includes their loved one’s cremated remains. The reef ball will be adorned with a plaque listing their dearly departed’s name and is then placed on the sea floor in a permanent location to create new habitats for fish and other sea life.
Frankel discusses his feelings on the “real magic,” as he refers to it, that happens when family members take part in the creation of the reef. Traditional funerals really only allow family members to make a few early decisions, cut a check, and then wait, making the families feel powerless and unneeded in the process. Eternal Reefs’ process involves the family members, which gives them a sense of purpose, and a feeling that they have some control. Frankel explains the good feeling that he sees families exhibit after they truly see that their loved one’s reef ball is contributing to the environment and supporting sea life. It gives them a good feeling and an internal warmness to know that their family member is part of that, eternally.
Frankel refers to the ocean as a “nutrient rich desert,” in that there are literally millions of microorganisms floating and seeking a place to land, to establish a base. The textured outer surface of the environmentally safe, cast concrete reef ball is designed specifically to create an ideal home for these living sea entities. And as the concrete is ph neutral, it works perfectly for living creatures, allowing aquatic life to flourish in and around it.
Eternal Reefs offers multiple sizes for families on varying budgets, from their smaller 750-pound reef ball that is two feet high and three feet wide to their largest which is 3800 pounds and is five feet high and six feet wide. From South Padre Island, Texas to Atlantic City, New Jersey, Frankel’s company services the needs of caring families who want to make a difference and give back to the environment. Frankel explains how sea temperatures and various other factors impact the types of aquatic life that inhabit their reef balls. And as he explains, within a year, most reef balls are so alive with life and natural-made structures that the reef balls begin to look like real, living reef systems.
Over time, these reef balls morph into a complete reef environment that is practically indistinguishable from organically grown actual sea reefs. Frankel details how the placement locations of their reef balls are heavily regulated and that they only place reefs in approved areas that have been selected for new reef creation. Thus, family members can feel confident that their departed loved ones will be contributing to a need.
Frankel discusses how many families feel that the reef ball creation process is an opportunity to introduce children to the concepts of loss and the circle of life, a teaching opportunity that creates a learning experience for young minds to grasp important ideas about how their world works. And as many people are now seeking more environmentally conscious means to deal with the burial of loved ones, Eternal Reefs offers a solution that makes sense from a conservation angle.