Marine rescue vollie laid to rest as part of reef

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Geoff VivianMidwest Times
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Alf Parker’s Rest in Reef ball sitting on the seabed in six metres of water.
Camera IconAlf Parker’s Rest in Reef ball sitting on the seabed in six metres of water. Credit: Supplied

A life member of Jurien Volunteer Marine Rescue and founding member of Jurien Bay Men’s Shed had his cremated ashes encased in concrete to form part of an artificial reef this month.

Alf Parker’s wife Val and daughter Karen had poured his ashes into a concrete mixer several days earlier before the mixture was placed in a special mould to cure.

Later, family and friends watched his “Rest in Reef Ball” slide into the water.

The Jurien Bay Men’s Shed representative Ian Stiles said about 12 people had had Rest in Reef Ball funerals so far.

“We believe that Jurien Bay is the only place in Australia that offer this service,” he said.

Rest in Reef balls are specially designed concrete balls, and the Men’s Shed is licensed to make them.

Mr Stiles said the then-Department of Environment and Conservation allowed an artificial reef to be established in the Jurien Bay Marine Park in 2013.

“This reef was initially made up of 79 balls,” he said.

“The reef was located just off the Jurien Bay town beach in about 3m of water, suitable for amateur and young snorkellers. The reef was placed on barren sand and soon attracted many species of fish, with over 50 different species including octopus and crayfish being counted by DEC divers four years later.”

Mr Stiles said then-Department of Parks and Wildlife officers and the Dandaragan Shire supported the Jurien Bay Men’s Shed’s 2015 application to place up to 100 smaller Rest in Reef Balls near the existing balls. “The Rest in Reef Balls are fabricated with 65 MPA concrete and as it is being mixed, the deceased’s ashes are placed in the mixer,” he said.

“The ashes can be added by either a member of the Men’s Shed or a loved one.

“The concrete is then poured into a mould and allowed to cure for a minimum of 10 days.”

Mr Stiles said the Jurien Bay Volunteer Marine Rescue vessel is used to position the Ball, of which twelve balls have been positioned so far.

The project is a partnership of Jurien Bay Men’s Shed and Jurien Bay Volunteer Marine Rescue. Contact bagzar@westnet.com.au.

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