at sea burial

Burial at Sea: A Unique Way to Say Goodbye to Your Loved One

Understanding What is Burial at Sea?

Burial at sea is a tradition deeply entrenched in maritime history, often associated with naval services honoring their fallen comrades.

However, in contemporary times, this practice has transcended its military origins and become a choice for civilians seeking a unique and symbolic final resting place for their loved ones. In this comprehensive exploration, we delve into the intricacies of burial at sea, encompassing its historical roots, modern-day procedures, environmental considerations, and legalities.

Burial services hold profound significance as they fulfill the final wishes of our departed loved ones. Opting for a full-body burial at sea presents a distinctive opportunity to honor their memory and bid them farewell in a truly unforgettable manner.

History of full-body burial at sea

The practice of burial at sea dates back centuries, with its roots embedded in maritime cultures across the globe. Historically, sea burials were often associated with naval traditions, serving as a solemn tribute to sailors who perished at sea. In many cultures, including ancient Greek and Viking societies, burial at sea was believed to appease the gods and ensure the departed souls found their way to the afterlife.

Throughout history, various methods of sea burial were employed, ranging from simple ceremonies where the deceased was consigned to the ocean’s depths without elaborate rituals to more elaborate ceremonies involving prayers, eulogies, and symbolic gestures.

Full-body sea burial stands as a distinctive and age-old funeral tradition. Cultures across the globe have embraced this practice for millennia, and its relevance persists even in contemporary times.

Modern Interpretations

In contemporary society, burial at sea has evolved beyond its military connotations and has become an option for civilians seeking alternative funeral arrangements. While the United States Navy continues to perform burial at sea ceremonies for veterans, private individuals now have the opportunity to choose this unique form of interment for themselves or their loved ones.

Modern interpretations of burial at sea encompass two primary methods: full-body burials and scattering of ashes. Full-body burials involve placing the deceased in a specially designed casket or wrapping them in a burial shroud before lowering them into the ocean. Alternatively, families may choose to scatter the cremated remains (ashes) of their loved ones across the water’s surface, allowing the currents to carry them away.

Advantages of Full Body Burial at Sea

full body burial at sea in LA


Choosing an ocean burial holds numerous benefits, particularly for those residing in coastal areas with a deep affinity for the sea. Such ceremonies forge an enduring connection between the departed and the vast expanse of the ocean, fostering cherished memories intertwined with its waters. Beyond sentimental value, sea funerals offer practical advantages:


Traditional land burials often entail extensive logistical planning and coordination, as securing cemetery plots can be time-consuming. In contrast, opting for a burial at sea provides a swift and hassle-free alternative. With boundless space available in the ocean, families can select a burial location on short notice, streamlining the funeral arrangement process.


Financial considerations play a significant role in funeral planning, and burial at sea presents a cost-effective solution compared to conventional ground burials. The expenses associated with sea burials vary depending on factors such as the chosen funeral plan and the size of the attending party. Typically, sea burial costs range from $700 to $1650, encompassing expenses related to charter boats and ceremony arrangements.

Environmental Friendliness

Beyond financial and logistical advantages, sea burials offer compelling environmental benefits. Traditional ground burials contribute to soil contamination as the body undergoes decomposition over an extended period. In contrast, burial at sea minimizes environmental impact by utilizing the ocean’s vast expanse as a final resting place. The natural decomposition process in marine environments ensures minimal pollution, while the deceased’s remains become a vital source of sustenance for marine life.

Advantages of Cremation Ashes Burial at Sea

Many individuals perceive ash scattering rituals as a symbolic means of releasing the spirit of their departed loved ones, fostering a sense of spiritual liberation and peace. Beyond the spiritual realm, scattering ashes at sea offers a multitude of practical benefits:


Traditional funerals in the United States often come with significant financial burdens, ranging from $7,000 to $12,000. In contrast, our burial at sea services start at a fraction of the cost, with prices beginning at $700. Depending on the selected plan, prices may vary, offering families a budget-friendly alternative without compromising on dignity or reverence.

Space and Time Efficiency

Cremated remains occupy considerably less space than whole bodies, making sea burials an ideal option amidst the challenges of crowded cemeteries. With burial plots becoming increasingly scarce, scattering ashes at sea alleviates the need for extensive land resources and provides a swift and efficient solution for funeral preparations.

Environmental Friendliness

For those prioritizing environmental concerns, water burials offer a sustainable and eco-friendly alternative. Whether scattering ashes directly into the ocean or utilizing biodegradable urns and containers, sea burials pose minimal ecological impact. By choosing cremation ashes burial at sea, individuals mitigate the risk of soil contamination associated with traditional ground burials, thereby contributing to environmental preservation.

Cremation Burial at Sea

Arranging a burial at sea involves several steps, each requiring careful consideration and adherence to legal regulations. Initially, family members may opt to hold a traditional funeral service either onshore, at a waterfront location, or aboard a vessel. Factors such as the number of attendees and prevailing weather conditions may influence the choice of venue.

To proceed with a burial at sea, individuals or funeral service providers must obtain the necessary permits and approvals from relevant authorities. In the United States, the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) oversees the issuance of licenses for sea burials, ensuring compliance with environmental regulations and designated burial sites. Additionally, preparations of the body and casket are essential to prevent resurfacing, maintain identification, and minimize environmental impact.

Environmental Considerations

full body burial at sea san pedro

One of the compelling aspects of burial at sea is its environmental friendliness, particularly when conducted using biodegradable materials.

Biodegradable caskets and urns, made from sustainable materials such as bamboo, recycled paper, or sea salt, are designed to gradually break down in the marine environment, leaving minimal ecological footprint. This eco-friendly approach aligns with the growing trend of green burials, where individuals seek environmentally sustainable alternatives to traditional funeral practices.

Furthermore, burial at sea offers a poignant connection to nature, as the deceased becomes part of the ocean’s ecosystem, contributing to its natural cycle of life and renewal. For environmentally-conscious individuals or families, sea burials provide a meaningful way to honor their loved ones while respecting the planet.

Burial at Sea Requirements

Despite its romanticized appeal, burial at sea is subject to strict legal and regulatory frameworks to ensure compliance with environmental laws and safety standards. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) imposes regulations governing the location and conduct of sea burials, including guidelines on distances from shore, depth of interment, and materials used.

Obtaining the requisite permits and licenses for burial at sea necessitates coordination with authorized agencies and may involve engaging professional funeral service providers experienced in maritime funerals.

Failure to adhere to regulatory requirements may result in legal consequences and environmental harm, underscoring the importance of conducting sea burials in a responsible and lawful manner.

Our Burial Services at Sea

In conclusion, burial at sea is a venerable tradition with enduring significance in maritime culture, offering individuals a distinctive and meaningful way to bid farewell to their departed loved ones. From its ancient roots in naval ceremonies to its contemporary interpretations as a civilian funeral option, sea burial continues to captivate the imagination and stir the emotions of those drawn to the sea.

Through meticulous planning, adherence to legal regulations, and environmental consciousness, families can honor their loved ones’ wishes while ensuring a dignified and respectful final resting place amidst the vast expanse of the ocean. Whether as a solemn tribute to naval heroes or as a personal choice for individuals seeking a connection to nature, burial at sea remains a timeless and evocative ritual, embodying the eternal bond between humanity and the sea.

The Burial at Sea Funeral Company provides extensive sea funeral services across California. Our main office is strategically located in San Pedro/Long Beach, with additional branches spanning the picturesque California coastline, including Dana Point, Long Beach, San Pedro, Redondo Beach, Los Angeles, and Catalina Island.

For more information on our range of available plans, vessels, and memorial services, please feel free to reach out to us at 310-714-0548. Alternatively, you can submit a form detailing your funeral requirements, and we will promptly address your inquiries.

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