WATCH: Diving in the peaceful underwater 'city' of a memorial reef
MIAMI, Fla. - It looks like a lost underwater city, with roads, pathways and structures. The Neptune Memorial Reef is a small city frozen in time, three miles off the coast of Miami, where people can spend their eternity as part of an underwater reef 40 feet under the sea.
With no fishing allowed, it's also home to thousands of fish and other marine life, and a dive site for avid divers and family members of those who are memorialized there.
Joe LaBara, who lives in Pompano Beach, said he's been wanting to dive that site for a couple years now. Recently, he dove there and shared video of the experience on his YouTube page. "It's absolutely beautiful. It's breathtaking," said LaBara. (Mobile users click here.)
The site is full of beautiful fish that swim around the concrete structures. According to the Neptune Memorial Reef's website, "These structures have produced a marine habitat to promote coral and marine organism's growth while creating the ultimate 'Green Burial' opportunity."
The structures are made of cremated remains mixed with concrete, and when a new piece is added, it's marked by a memorial plaque. When The Memorial Reef is complete, it will be a full 16 underwater acres. "You're like in a totally different world, you're like at peace," said LaBara, who's been diving for 20 years.
People can dive and visit the reef, like LaBara did, but visitors are asked that the cremation ashes and the marine life be respected.
The project is the largest man-made reef ever conceived, according to the website. It meets the strict guidelines of the EPA, NOAA, FWC, and Army Corps of Engineers, and is free to visit by the public.