world, accounting for one-fourth of U.S.
interments in the year 2000—a number
expected to rise by another 15 percent
in the next 10 years. Consequently,
alternative cremation services are
popping up everywhere.
Houston-based Celestis will rocket
your remains into space. Celebrate
Life Inc. of San Diego will send you off
in a lavish fireworks display. And, for
somewhere between $1,500 and
$3,200, Eternal Reefs, a Decatur,
Georgia, company, will mix your ashes
with concrete and turn you into an
artificial reef on the ocean floor.
Don Brawley, Eternal Reefs' founder,
got the idea a few years ago when his
father-in-law said he'd rather "be
buried around a lot of life than in a field
with a bunch of dead people."
Brawley was already making artificial
reefs to help restore fish habitats by
providing a protected haven. The reef
balls weigh between 400 and 4,000
pounds. A bronze plaque with the
deceased's name is affixed to the
balls, and families get a certificate
stating the reef's coordinates. "We're
providing a service that helps people
give back something positive to the
environment," says Brawley.
But some marine biologists are
skeptical. John McManus, director of
the University of Miami's National
Center for Caribbean Coral Reef
Research, says: "If you're trying to
protect fish stocks, 70 percent of which
are already overfished, the worst thing
you can do is make it easier to catch
the fish by plopping down an artificial