Tuesday, September 6, 2016

MIAMI: Neptune Memorial Reef

   The Neptune Memorial Reef originally conceived by Gary Levine and designed by artist Kim Brandell and known as the Atlantis Reef Project or the Atlantis Reef is an underwater columbarium in what was conceived by the creator as the world's largest man-made reef (covering over 600,000 square feet (65,000 m²) of ocean floor) at a depth of 40 feet. 
   As of 2012, the Reef occupies a half-acre space, but a planned expansion to 16 acres is underway. The city design involves underwater roads leading to a central feature with benches and statuary.
    The place was chosen at 3.25 miles (5.2 km) off the coast of Key Biscayne, Florida. It is a type of burial at sea and the first phase is estimated to be able to accommodate 850 remains, with an eventual goal of more than 125,000 remains. Though often referred to in news articles as an underwater mausoleum or underwater cemetery, the Neptune Society Memorial Reef meets the criterion for neither.
   Cremated remains are mixed with cement to form features of the Reef, and memorial plaques are added. The Reef is more correctly identified as a cremation memorial site.

    The man-made reef, located three miles (5 km) off the coast of Florida's Key Biscayne, opened in 2007 after a number of difficulties, including permits. After an extensive evaluation and permitting process, the Atlantis Reef Project has been permitted by the EPA, DERM, NOAA, Florida Fish and Wildlife, and the Army Corps of Engineers. One of the construction requirements was that the Memorial Reef be built to withstand the strongest storm in the last 100 years. During the permitting process, Hurricane Andrew, a category 5 hurricane swept through, requiring a re-engineering of the Reef.

   The reef stretches across 16 acres (65,000 m2) of ocean floor designed as both a home for sea life and "a destination for divers". The Neptune Society Memorial Reef lies in a special management zone. Boaters and divers are welcome, but no fishing or lobster-taking is allowed. Now that reef-building coral have developed at the site, the Neptune Society Memorial Reef can be properly identified as a coral reef.

   Construction has stopped on the reef. The molds have been destroyed and there have been no additions since the Atlantis group and Neptune have severed relationships.


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