Eric had been an avid fisherman, and in his retirement he had
started a fishing and sightseeing charter service on Marco Island
called Magic Charters and Tours. Magic was also the name of
his flats boat, for he felt the Everglades and the coastal waters of
Southwest Florida to be magical.
It seemed to his wife appropriate to have him cremated and his
ashes spread in the waters he so loved. But Eric had seen a TV show
on Eternal Reefs and had found their Web site. He had also mentioned
it to his daughter, who showed Jeanne the Web site.
Jeanne said, "What a great idea. It's a perfect, perfect thing
It was a way to continue his participation in the life of the
coastal waters, a way of allowing Eric to be surrounded by the
Eternal Reefs grew out of some divers' concern regarding the
deteriorating condition of natural reefs and their attempt to create
artificial reefs using an environmentally friendly concrete molded
into shapes that mimic natural reef structure. These structures are
now called reef balls.
Carlton Palmer, the father of one of
the reef ball developers, requested his cremated remains be placed
in one of the artificial reefs. Thus, the concept of Eternal Reefs
The casting of the reef balls takes place about four weeks before
they are to be placed underwater. The families are invited to attend
the casting so as to participate as the cremated remains are mixed
into the concrete and poured into the form. Families will have
already chosen a specific size reef ball for their loved one. As
part of the casting process, bronze name plaques are attached. Also,
the families are invited to attach mementoes to the reef balls.
"They said you can do whatever you want with the reef," Siverson
said. "We brought a box of Malamars and butterscotch pudding to put
in the reef because they were Eric's favorites. I wrote him a letter
and put it in a plastic bottle. His sister left him a toy motorcycle
in the reef because he was a motorcycle rider."
After the reef balls are cast, they are taken by barge out to the
reef site, and the families follow in other large boats. The site
and the reef balls are dedicated, and then as each ball is lowered,
the person's name is read. The boat horns sound. The families strew
flowers on the water. Goodbyes are said, while the families listen
to The Sea by John F. Kennedy.
"We're tied to the ocean, and we go back to the sea - whether
it's to sail or to watch it - we're going back from whence we came,"
Eternal Reefs has been placing these memorial artificial reefs
since October 2001. In 2002, one reef was placed off Marco Island.
By the end of 2005, they will have placed 29 sets of reefs in
locations as far north as Ocean City, N.J., and as far west as Padre
The individual memorial reef balls are clustered together at a
site just as natural reefs tend to cluster. Families may choose one
of three sizes for their loved one's reef ball or they may choose to
place the cremated remains in a larger community ball. The latitude
and longitude of each reef site is given only to the families.
After the placing of Eric Siverson's reef off the coast of
Sarasota, the family decided they would take a boat to the site each
year on the anniversary, a fitting way to visit a man who so loved
the waters of Southwest Florida.
For more information, visit www.eternalreefs.com or call