Photograph by Elkman
Off the coast of Miami, Florida, a little over three miles east of Key Biscayne, lies Neptune Memorial Reef. To some, it’s a perfect scuba-diving playground; to others, it’s a beautiful memorial site. This artificial reef was built as an artistic representation of the Lost City of Atlantis. It sits in about 40 feet of water, and is slowly becoming covered in marine life. Based on an artist’s rendition of Atlantis, the Neptune Reef will eventually cover over 16 acres of otherwise barren ocean floor. As well as functioning as a dive site, this memorial reef is also a member of the Green Burial Council, allowing cremation ashes to be mixed with the material that forms the reef’s building material, which, in turn, helps provide a rocky substrate for the artificial reef to continue to grow.
Although Neptune Memorial Reef only opened in 2007, the life on the site has grown exponentially over the hard structures. Throughout the site there is an abundance of fish, with frequent fin nibbles from sergeant majors, as well as some surprising encounters with tarpons swimming through. Since this particular location is protected, there is a small population of lobsters hiding within the holes of the structure, basket sea stars, as well as a few eels peeking out to greet the divers while they swim by. Divers also stand a good chance of seeing a southern stingray rummaging through the sand, as well as turtles swimming around the structure. With only a few years of growth, there is high hope that the life here will to continue to multiply.
Neptune Memorial Reef is an excellent site for novice divers, photographers and night dives, as well as a moving tribute to deceased loved ones. If you’d like to plan a trip, the site partners with a number of Miami dive shops, but the site is open to private boats as well.
By guest author Elizabeth Maynor