What is the Neptune Memorial Reef and How Can I Visit It?

Neptune Society Memorial ReefExcitement and adventure aren’t normally words people associate with visiting a loved one’s final resting place, but in the case of the Neptune Memorial Reef, they are the perfect words to describe the experience!

Families often ask if it is possible to visit the Neptune Memorial Reef. Our answer is a resounding “yes” – it is possible and we encourage you to do so as often as you like. Access to the reef is free and open to all visitors. We believe that your visit will be a beautiful and rewarding experience.

The Neptune Memorial Reef lies 3.25 miles off the coast of Key Biscayne, Florida at GPS coordinates N25º 42.036′, W80º 05.409′ and when completed it will cover an area of 16 acres of ocean floor. There are several dive boats that frequently visit the reef; to join one of these expeditions, simply contact a Miami-based dive shop.

Certified divers will be able to descend 45 feet below the ocean’s surface to visit their loved ones’ final resting place among the structures of this unique artistic rendering of the Lost City of Atlantis. Non-divers may snorkel, swim, or scatter flowers in remembrance of their loved ones as they enjoy their journey over the peaceful waters of the Memorial Reef.

Neptune Memorial Reef’s Operations Director Jim Hutslar, who was also one of the masterminds behind development of the reef stated, “Already designated as the most prolific reef in South Florida and predicted to one day be visible from space, I believe the Neptune Memorial Reef is becoming one of the wonders of the world.”

This man-made reef doesn’t only attract human visitors wishing to visit departed family or friends. The Neptune Memorial Reef is home to a growing ecosystem of sea creatures native to the Florida coast. The natural processes made possible by this reef and the minimal impact on the earth that placement here creates are two of the reasons why Neptune Memorial Reef is the ultimate ‘Green Burial’ opportunity. In a time when reefs around the world are dying, the structures of the Neptune Memorial Reef serve an important purpose as an anchor for the growth of coral. Coral is a critical component of a healthy ocean, serving not just as a host organism that supports biodiversity, but also providing shoreline protection, food and other resources for humans and marine animals, as well as recreational opportunities.

As you visit your loved one’s final resting place, we encourage you to spend some time enjoying and observing the marine life that call this reef their home. Two Atlantic Rays, named Lucy and Desi, and a Loggerhead Turtle named Crush are among the residents here; sergeant majors, grunts, parrotfish, and French angelfish are just a few of the species of fish that can be found. These beautiful creatures add to the excitement of your trip to the Memorial Reef.

Hutslar said, “Imagine the day you or a loved one is added to the living reef: a boat ride over blue green waters on a balmy day, escorted by playing dolphins and welcomed by curious, colorful fish. That would certainly be the option I’d choose.”

To be memorialized in the Neptune Memorial Reef, an individual’s remains are first cremated and mixed with concrete. This mixture is shaped into forms such as sea stars, coral, or shells, marked with the person’s name and placed on the ocean floor or added to the structures of the Lost City. These structures and forms create shelter and spawning grounds for marine life, as well as a substrate for the formation of coral, enabling a complete eco-system to form in this cemetery under the sea. Neptune Memorial Reef maintains these structures carefully, to ensure memorials are visible without disturbing the reef.

For more information about visiting and diving the Neptune Memorial Reef, please contact Jim Hutslar, Operations Director for the Reef, at Jim.Hutslar@sci-us.com. If you are interested in learning more about how you or a loved one can be memorialized in the Neptune Memorial Reef, please contact Melissa Pitalo, Service Manager for the Reef at 954-684-8049.