at sea burial

Famous People Buried At Sea

What Does It Mean to Be Buried at Sea?

Burial at sea is a method of laying human remains to rest in the ocean, providing an alternative to traditional burial practices. Famous people buried at sea highlight the appeal and historical significance of this method. In the United States, this practice is legally permitted under specific regulations.

A full body burial at sea involves transporting the deceased out to the open ocean and placing the body into the water, encased in a weighted burial shroud.

U.S. law requires such burials to occur at least three miles offshore and at a depth of no less than 600 feet.

The vessel facilitating this process must possess a Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act (MPRSA) permit, and many states mandate the presence of a funeral director during the procedure.

Due to the time required to reach the legal distance and depth, burial at sea often becomes a full-day event.

During this period, participants often celebrate the life of the deceased by sharing food, beverages, and stories. Nonetheless, it is also possible for the burial to occur without the presence of friends and family.

Selecting an ocean burial presents numerous advantages, particularly appealing to those living in coastal regions deeply connected to the sea. Such ceremonies establish a lasting bond between the departed and the expansive ocean, intertwining cherished memories with its waters.

Why Choose a Sea Burial?

Opting for a full body burial at sea is widely regarded as one of the most environmentally friendly methods of handling human remains. When placing the body in the ocean within a biodegradable burial shroud, it undergoes natural decomposition, providing nourishment for marine life.

This environmentally conscious choice appeals to individuals who wish for their bodies to continue serving a purpose after death, contributing to the natural cycle of life. For those who hold a deep connection to the sea or who value ecological sustainability, a sea burial offers a meaningful and respectful way to honor their final wishes.

Famous People Buried at Sea

burial at sea in san pedro

“The sea is the largest cemetery, and its slumbers sleep without a monument.

All other graveyards show symbols of distinction between great and small, rich and poor: but in the ocean cemetery, the king, the clown, the prince, and the peasant are alike, indistinguishable.”

These words, spoken by George Bruce in 1884 at St Andrews, capture the timeless essence of burial at sea. Today, this practice continues to be a meaningful choice for many. Burial at sea is far from a novel idea.

During the Winter of Discontent, Duncan Dolton, the medical officer of health for Liverpool, inadvertently suggested it due to a protracted strike by the General Municipal Workers’ Union (GMWU), which represented undertakers.

Many celebrities from the realms of music, cinema, literature, and other arts have chosen the sea or other bodies of water as their final resting places. Choosing a less conventional burial and avoiding the spotlight, these individuals have requested their ashes be scattered in an ocean, lake, or river, possibly seeking a final communion with nature as a way of saying goodbye. Many people opt for cremation and then scatter their ashes across the ocean. Here are a few notable people who have been buried at sea:

Francis Drake

Mariner Francis Drake, a lifelong admirer of the sea, earned his reputation by skillfully navigating its waters and achieving remarkable feats. Renowned for his exploits, Drake played a pivotal role in England’s naval history, most notably for circumnavigating the globe and his involvement in defeating the Spanish Armada.

When Drake died in 1596, they gave him a burial befitting his stature. They encased his body in a lead coffin, dressed him in a full suit of armor, and consigned him to the depths of the sea. They did this to ensure his Spanish adversaries, who viewed him as a formidable foe, would never find his remains.

In October 2011, the proprietor of a US privateer historical center claimed to be near discovering Drake’s remaining parts. The discovery of two ships, the Elizabeth and the Delight, which were abandoned shortly after Drake’s death, fueled speculation. Despite this promising lead, the coffin of this legendary figure remains undiscovered, preserving the mystery of Francis Drake’s final voyage.

Robin Williams

One of the most renowned individuals buried at sea in recent years is Robin Williams. After passing away on August 11, 2014, following a prolonged battle with dementia, Robin Williams was laid to rest in a private ceremony in the San Francisco Bay, as revealed by his wife, Susan Schneider.

Many people remember the award-winning actor and comedian Robin Williams, whose fame skyrocketed with his role in the TV show “Mork & Mindy.” His film career took off with the success of “Good Morning, Vietnam”, which solidified his status as a Hollywood icon.

Williams also gained recognition for his philanthropic efforts, particularly his support for children’s causes. He made a significant impact through his involvement with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, fulfilling the wishes of terminally ill children and bringing joy to their lives.

John F. Kennedy, Jr.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy Jr. was the only surviving son of President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated just before his son’s third birthday. Due to his unique circumstances and membership in the prominent Kennedy family, JFK Jr. became a highly notable public figure, with society closely following his life.

Kennedy was piloting a small plane that tragically crashed, resulting in the deaths of himself, his wife Carolyn Bessette, and her sister Lauren Bessette. They were en route to a family wedding on Martha’s Vineyard when the accident occurred.

They buried their remains off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, the very place they were traveling to attend his cousin’s wedding. This solemn location became their final resting place, forever linking them to the family gathering they were destined for.

H.G. Wells

H.G. Wells was a distinguished author and historian who lived during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Today, people best know him for his groundbreaking science fiction works, including The Time Machine (1895), The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897), and The War of the Worlds (1898). Filmmakers have adapted these seminal works into films, cementing Wells’ legacy in literature and cinema.

On August 16, 1946, they cremated Wells at Golders Green Crematorium in London. His family later scattered his ashes near Old Harry Rocks off the southern coast of England, a fitting final resting place for a man whose imagination and stories continue to captivate readers and viewers around the world.

Sir Edmund Hillary

With the assistance of local people, New Zealander Edmund Hillary and his guide, Tenzing Norgay, became the first climbers to reach the summit of Mount Everest. This historic achievement earned Hillary a knighthood and a place in TIME magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century. Following his remarkable ascent, he founded the Himalayan Trust, which has provided significant aid to the people of Nepal ever since.

Sir Edmund Hillary passed away from heart failure on January 11, 2008. After a state funeral on January 22, 2008, they cremated his body and scattered his ashes in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf. This final act honored a life dedicated to exploration, humanitarian work, and a profound connection to the mountainous regions he loved.

Cary Grant

Cary Grant (born Archibald Alec Leach on January 18, 1904 – November 29, 1986) gained renown as an English-American actor for his Mid-Atlantic accent, suave demeanor, lighthearted approach to acting, and impeccable comic timing.

As one of classic Hollywood’s quintessential leading men, he earned two Academy Award nominations, received an Academy Honorary Award in 1970, and received the Kennedy Center Honor in 1981. In 1999, the American Film Institute named him the second greatest male star of the Golden Age of Hollywood.

An editorial in The New York Times eloquently captured her enduring appeal: “Cary Grant should not die. Cary Grant should remain our eternal touchstone of charm, grace, romance, and youth.”

After he passed away, his family returned his body to California, cremated him, and scattered his ashes in the Pacific Ocean according to his wishes.

Sean Connery

Sir Sean Connery, a Scottish actor, is best known as the first to portray the fictional British secret agent James Bond in a film. He starred in seven Bond films between 1962 and 1983, beginning with Dr. No (1962). Connery continued to play Bond in the Eon Productions films, with his final appearance in the franchise being Never Say Never Again (1983), a non-Eon-produced Bond film.

He received numerous accolades throughout his career, including a BAFTA Award, three Golden Globe Awards, and an Academy Award, making him the first Scottish actor to achieve this honor.

Connery passed away in his sleep on October 31, 2020, at the age of 90, at his home in the Lyford Cay community of Nassau in the Bahamas. His family and Eon Productions announced his death, with his son Jason later revealing that Connery had been unwell for some time. A day after his passing, his widow disclosed that he had suffered from dementia in his final years.

A month later, TMZ obtained his death certificate, which listed the cause of death as pneumonia and respiratory failure, with the time of death recorded as 1:30 am. Connery’s remains were cremated, and his ashes were scattered in Scotland at undisclosed locations in 2022.

Reasons for Choosing a Full Body Sea Burial

Full Body Burial at Sea

There are compelling reasons why individuals opt for a full body burial at sea, whether civilian or military:

Deep Connection to the Sea: For those with a profound love for the ocean, a full body burial at sea offers a final resting place that resonates with their affinity for the sea.

Serene and Peaceful Setting: The tranquil and picturesque open sea provides a serene backdrop for the burial, imbuing the farewell ceremony with a sense of tranquility and serenity.

Environmental Considerations: Choosing a full body burial at sea supports ecological sustainability by allowing for natural decomposition and minimizing the use of finite land resources, presenting an eco-conscious alternative.

Unique and Memorable Farewell: A full-body burial at sea creates a distinctive and memorable way to bid farewell to a loved one. Releasing the body into the ocean’s vastness symbolizes a profound and enduring farewell to family and friends.

Additional Reasons for Choosing a Full Body Burial at Sea

Emotional Closure and Healing: Witnessing the final journey and releasing a loved one’s physical presence into the ocean can provide a profound sense of emotional closure and healing. This meaningful and cathartic experience aids in the grieving process, offering solace to those left behind.

Honoring Maritime Heritage: For individuals with a strong maritime heritage or those who have spent their lives at sea, a full body burial at sea is a poignant way to honor and pay tribute to their unique life story and connection to maritime traditions.

Personalized Options: Full body burial at sea allows for personalization, such as selecting a specific casket or shroud, enabling a more customized and meaningful farewell ceremony that reflects the deceased’s personal preferences.

Commemorative Rituals and Ceremonies: This type of burial offers an opportunity for family and friends to gather, share stories, and participate in a special ceremony that honors the deceased’s life. It fosters a sense of support and togetherness during a difficult time.

Professional Assistance and Guidance: Arranging a full-body burial at sea can be complex, but experienced professionals are available to provide guidance and support. They manage all necessary arrangements, relieving the family of additional stress during this challenging period.

Leaving a Lasting Legacy: Choosing a full-body burial at sea allows the departed to leave a lasting legacy intertwined with the vast and majestic ocean. This choice serves as a poignant reminder of their connection to the sea for generations to come.

Consult a Sea Funeral Specialist

Planning a sea funeral involves much more than renting a boat and heading out to sea. It requires careful effort and time to meticulously plan every detail of the burial at sea ceremony while adhering to maritime laws. Pre-planning the entire event ensures a peaceful final voyage and eliminates financial strain during a time of sorrow and grief.

Burial at Sea in San Pedro, CA, is the perfect funeral company to plan, arrange, and organize your sea funeral ceremony exactly as you wish.

We offer full-body burials and ash scattering off the coast of Redondo Beach, Long Beach, San Pedro, Los Angeles, and Catalina Island.

To learn more, call our office or fill out the contact form on our website.

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