at sea burial

How Does Burial at Sea Work?

at sea burial

Burials at sea have gained a lot of popularity today. Whether or not you have witnessed one yourself, you might have heard about the deceased being buried into the ocean. While it is usual for former sailors and navy personnel to be buried at sea, the ritual is not limited to them alone. Anyone can be cremated into the ocean, provided the necessary licensing permits are acquired and all the maritime and environmental regulations are met in a proper manner. Even if you don’t have a maritime connection, you can seek the help of a burial at sea company to plan and arrange the entire ocean funeral at designated locations.

We’ll discuss what a burial at sea means, how you can plan these burials for your deceased loved ones and why exactly you should plan one as well as the rules and regulations associated with the same.

What is a Sea Burial?

Burial at sea is a time-honored practice of disposing human remains into the ocean. In the past, the privilege of at-sea burials was available only for those employed in or retired from the navy. The sea funeral is conducted with the help of a ship or a boat to release the mortal remains.

Ocean burial ceremonies may include burial in a casket or urn or simply scattering the ashes into the ocean from a ship.

Full Body Sea Burials vs Scattering of Ashes at Sea

While burial at sea generally means disposing human remains into the ocean, it can be performed in different ways. Broadly speaking, these ocean funerals can be categorized into the following:

Full Body Burial at Sea

A full body or whole body burial at sea refers to the disposal of the entire body of the deceased person into the ocean. In this type of burial, a metal casket, a biodegradable coffin or an urn can be used.

The process of a full body sea burial can prove to be cumbersome, unless every detail of the ceremony is planned in advance. The funeral director plays a key role in making the whole funeral hassle-free. There are many burial at sea companies that specialize in arranging such burials. If you are located in California, you can seek the help of Burial at Sea, a company which provides detailed planning and arrangement for full body sea burials for private citizens off the coast of Long Beach, San Pedro, Los Angeles, Catalina Island and Redondo Beach.

Scattering Ashes at Sea

Scattering of ashes at sea is exactly what it means. The ashes of the cremated person are scattered over the ocean water.

First, the cremations are transferred into an urn. Flowers and petals are added to the urn. The urn is then taken to the ocean in a ship or boat and it is lowered into the ocean for releasing the ashes. Family, relatives and friends can view the entire ceremony either from upon a cliff. If you desire to scatter the ashes of your deceased loved ones into the ocean, you should reach out to Burial at Sea, which has specialization in this type of at-sea funeral ceremonies.

What You Need to Bury a Body at Sea

Anybody can plan an ocean funeral for their departed loved ones. However, the entire process of sea burials is carefully regulated. It is quite difficult to go through and complete the entire process on your own. If you want hassle-free planning, you should hire the services of a professional funeral company. Here are the key requirements you will need to fulfill for sea burials.

Death Certificate:

You will need to register the death of your loved one with the registry office to receive the death certificate.

Form of Notice:

You can collect this form either from the registry office or a professional funeral company. This notice will enable you to move the body of your loved one to proceed with the sea burial.

Certificate from Doctor:

According to the environmental regulations, the body you desire to bury at the sea must be free from all kinds of infections. That is exactly why you will need to collect a certificate of freedom from fever and infection from the doctor who was caring for the deceased.

Based on your specific case, you may need to adhere to a couple of other rules and regulations before the sea funeral can proceed. Once the license has been granted, you will be ready to go ahead. Burial at Sea is a professional funeral company, which can take care of all these licensing requirements and permits in a professional manner so that you can have peace of mind.

Sea Burials Can’t Be Performed Just Anywhere

You can’t choose a site for sea burial at your free will. In fact, the maritime authorities have already designated a number of locations where a full-body sea burial can be performed. There is a whole process you will need to follow, in case you have a new site in mind for a sea burial.

The site for sea burials are pre-selected for the ease of private citizens. You can never bury a body at a location which is not suitable for the same. If the sea burial is not carried out in a suitable location at the sea, the body might float back to the shore or get caught in commercial fishing nets. That is exactly why the EPA has put out clear rules and guidelines as to how and where sea burials will be conducted. With the assistance of a professional funeral company, you will be able to carry out the entire ocean funeral in a suitable and regulated manner.

Hiring a Boat for Sea Burials

Whether it is a full-body burial at sea ceremony or scattering of ashes, it will be carried out in a ship or boat. Once everything else is ready, the boat will carry the body or the ashes out to the ocean.

Professional funeral companies provide different types and sizes of water vessels for conducting at-sea burials. You will need to discuss your specific needs in detail with the boat rental company you hire. Burial at Sea uses the “ASANTE”, which is a locally designed vessel to operate on the Southern California waters. The boat has a capacity to accommodate up to 25 people. It can cruise at a speed of 23 mph. The boat runs on a highly efficient diesel engine.

For more details on the “ASANTE”, feel free to reach out to one of our ocean funeral specialists at Burial at Sea.

Coffin Requirements for Sea Burials

The US government has some strict regulations in regard to how a coffin for sea burials should be constructed.

  • The coffin material should not contain plastic, lead or copper. It should be constructed from a biodegradable material.
  • The coffin should have 40-50 drilled holes in order for it to sink down.
  • The coffin should have around 200 kg weight attached to its base.
  • The attached weight should have even distribution.

In any case, the coffin must be constructed from non-toxic and biodegradable material such as solid softwood. On the government website, you will find the entire details of how the coffin has to be made. Burial at Sea funeral company wraps the body either in a biodegradable shroud or places it in a stainless steel casket. Get in touch with one of our professionals to know more.

What is the Cost of a Sea Burial?

The cost of a sea burial depends on the specific requirements and plan of the funeral. If you are planning for a whole body burial at sea, you should get in touch with a funeral company. Most service providers will provide you a free estimate of the entire ceremony to avoid any discrepancies later.

The total cost of a sea burial depends on:

  • Selection of burial location
  • Services you need
  • Funeral company you work with

The cost will include charges for boat rental, equipment, special coffin and licenses and permits. Add to it the transportation expenses for taking the body from the funeral home to the beach. The cost will be affected based on what kind of flowers and wreaths you choose for the ceremony. Feel free to reach out to Burial at Sea in Southern California for a free quote for your sea burial.

Professional burial companies also provide ash scattering services. However, the cost of throwing or scattering ashes into the ocean is a lot less than the cost of a full body burial into the ocean waters.

Do You Want to Organize a Sea Burial?

Whether you plan for a full body burial at sea or spreading ashes into the ocean, it will require a great deal of planning. Hiring a professional burial service will take the pain out of the entire process. Head over to Burial at Sea to discuss what you exactly want and find out how we can help you. We offer ocean burial off the Southern California coast in locations such as Long Beach, Los Angeles, Catalina Island, Redondo Beach and San Pedro. Through our deep knowledge and experience, we’ll make the sea funeral of your deceased loved ones a memorable one.

For your consultation, you can talk to one of our specialists over the phone or write us an email using the contact form.

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