IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Lost in the city of Atlantis

Diving enthusiast Kerry Sanders goes underwater to report on a man-made reef and cemetery.

45 FEET DOWN, OFF KEY BISCAYNE, FLORIDA— I never thought I’d get a dateline like this.

Here, I am almost alone in what will someday be a huge memorial garden

At first I thought it was a little creepy: scuba diving where the cremated remains of thousands will someday be permanently cemented into place.

But down here, with the clear blue-green waters, the curious tropical fish, and these lion statues and sculptured columns, it’s all rather peaceful and inviting.

I guess that’s the point, and I’d say the dreamers who came up with this achieved their goal.

The art down here is all new so it’s only beginning to take on that crusted-over look scuba divers are used to seeing.  Barnacles are just now attaching themselves to the columns (the ones in the water for the last month).

As a long-time scuba diver, this caught my interest because as divers know, more often than not, getting to dive sites can be the chore. Not the case here. It’s only 3.2 miles northeast of the light house on Key Biscayne, Fla. On a fast speed boat from Virginia Key, you are here in less than 30 minutes.

Interestingly, it took the planners and artists over three years to convince the various governmental agencies that building this made environmental sense.

There was NOAA, DER, DERM and a half dozen other federal, state and local government agencies with letters identifying their authority that each had to oversee this project. Every one gave it’s blessing, in part, because the bottom here is sand.  There is no coral. No rocks. Just sand. The greatest depth is 150 feet. The shallowest: where I am now — 45 feet.

I’m not sure this is where I want to be “buried,” but that may be because like so many of us, I don’t want to think of such things right now. My mother wants her ashes, along with my fathers, to be placed in the Peruvian Andes, not far from where she grew up. So who am I to say this underwater garden is any weirder?

For now, I would rather look at the bronze lion. It’s all rather unusual— and of course after diving coral heads, wrecks, and the like, it’s something new.

I guess for the moment, I am in the lost city of Atlantis.

My air is running low, so I am going to surface.

This might well be a two tank day!