There are many fascinating scenarios of posthumous existence. People who want to be useful also at the end of their earthly life, bequeath their bodies for organs for transplantation, donate them to the art projects of Günther von Hagens, agree to turn into biohumus for the study of forensic scientists... Some time ago, altruists thinking about a will had another opportunity: Florida-based Eternal Reefs invites everyone to become a kind of coral to help solve the problem of dwindling reef systems. The Guardian writes about it.
After death, the body is burned, and the ashes are mixed with pH-neutral concrete, from which reef balls are made - domed perforated structures. They are placed in specially designated areas on the coast of the United States in order to attract new inhabitants to the endangered bottom. As Eternal Reefs assures, such balls successfully imitate real reefs and are very fond of marine life, which willingly colonizes them.
There are enough people who want to become a reef after death: basically these are people who love the sea and would like to help marine flora and fauna. Reefs are essential - they protect coastlines and keep marine ecosystems in balance. However, most of the world's reefs are now under threat - due to warming, acidification, ocean pollution and overfishing. The idea seems extravagant only at first glance. Sea burials have a long tradition, they existed among a variety of peoples. Take, for example, the burials of the Vikings in special boats, which were set on fire and sent to the sea. Or the Western tradition of throwing the bodies of sailors who died during the voyage into the water, wrapping them in canvas. In Hawaii, funeral practices are still used today, in which the bodies are placed in canoes and launched into the water. The dispersion of ash in the ocean is widely practiced in Asia.
Memorial balls for Eternal Reefs are created by the Reef Ball Foundation and Reef Innovations. The size of the structures is just over a meter in height and two meters in width, weight - from 250 to 1800 kg. They have a rough surface that allows marine plants and animals like corals and algae to attach and grow on them. The desire to become a reef costs between $3,000 and $7,500, a labor-intensive process. In total, Eternal Reefs has already sunk about 3,000 memorial reefs in 25 underwater "cemeteries" from Texas to New Jersey, with the ultimate goal of creating a chain of 250,000 burials that will cover more than 6.5 hectares of seabed. It will be one of the world's largest artificial reefs, which will be home to at least 56 species of fish, as well as crabs, sea urchins, and sponges. And it is unlikely that anyone will raise a hand against him: the realization that he was built from human remains should serve as a guarantee of the preservation of the reef, at least in the civilized world.
Such reefs also have disadvantages, from the point of view of ecology, they are not perfect. First, cremation is a process during which 400 kg of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere per body. Second, concrete is the material responsible for 8% of all CO2 emissions worldwide. Nevertheless, the initiative of the Americans was picked up in the UK, in Dorset - here she works as part of a program to attract divers and restore the lobster population. The royal family, which owns the seabed in the UK, allowed two local divers to use a plot of 1 sq. km off the coast of Weymouth and Portland. Here the reefs are made from human ashes and local limestone. According to marine biologists, the 16 burials made over the past eight years have helped create a new ecosystem with a wide variety of invertebrates.