Many People Opting To Inter Their Loved Ones At Neptune Memorial Reef, Where They'll 'Live' Literally Forever

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Many people choose to scatter a loved one’s ashes at sea.

But now there’s a way to bring those ashes to the bottom of the sea, so that they’ll live on in a new form of life.

CBS2’s Ali Bauman has the story of this coral memorial.

Just a few miles off Miami Beach, three generations of one family travel to a sacred spot. Will Payne dives in 40 feet beneath the water’s edge, and brings his parents to a final resting place.

“Being the ashes down there, it basically becomes life down there,” Payne said.

reef2 Coral Reef Cemetery Off Miami Beach Now Home To 1,500 People

A coral reef off of Miami Beach, Florida, is now the final resting place for more than 1,500 people. (Photo: CBS2)

Buel and Linda Payne’s ashes were melded into a concrete pillar. At Neptune Memorial Reef, coral will soon grow from the ashes, giving the Paynes a literal second life.

“And they will live on forever,” Memorial Reef operations director Jim Hutslar said.

The reef is home to the cremated remains of 1,500 people. The Paynes are the first to be interred in an expansion. As reefs struggle with bleaching and other threats, the memorial’s permit was granted to help encourage the ecosystem.

“The way coral grows is that we have a layer of coral, it absorbs limestone and it creates rock. So, it builds layer after layer. This way, we’ve given the reef a head start,” Hutslar said.

Family members snorkel and look down from above, as their loved ones are placed and roses are tossed to mark the spot.

“I guess if there was heaven, that would be it for them down there, definitely,” Will Payne said.

“We’re hoping that we’re going to build a big reef and that you won’t be able to see where mom and dad were. You’ll just know generations from now that they are part of that reef. That they, you know, created it,” Hutslar added.

A cemetery at sea, giving the deceased a new life after life.