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Scattering Ashes at Sea

Updated: Sep 14, 2023




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Sea Burials (Scattering Ashes at Sea) Are a Beautiful Tribute for People with a Connection to the Sea
Sea Burials (Scattering Ashes at Sea) Are a Beautiful Tribute for People with a Connection to the Sea

Scattering Ashes at Sea (Sea Burials): Procedures, Rules and Regulations in the Uk, Usa, Canada and Australia


There is no standard way to deal with the loss of a loved one. Whereas some people spend a lifetime trying to cope with such tragedy, others seek solace in eternal tributes that help in commemorating the lives of departed loved ones. A tribute like the burial at sea (scattering ashes at sea) procedure is both cost effective and desirable if the deceased was a lover of nature or had a special connection to the sea.


What Is a Sea Burial (Scattering Ashes at Sea)?


A sea burial (scattering ashes at sea) refers to the disposal of human remains in the ocean. Although the burial at sea (scattering ashes at sea) procedure is regularly performed by navies, it is also available for private citizens in the UK, USA, Canada, and Australia. Needless to say, various countries have different burial at sea (scattering ashes at sea) regulations.


Sea burial (Scattering ashes at sea) is a very personal choice that may involve:


  1. Full-Body burial at sea (scattering ashes at sea): This burial at sea (scattering ashes at sea) procedure refers to disposing of a deceased’s body at sea either in a casket or a specially wrapped natural shroud. Interment must be carried out in approved federal waters.

  2. Scattering cremated ashes at sea.


Types of Sea Burial (Scattering Ashes at Sea) Ceremonies Include:


Attended Sea Burial


This sea burial (scattering ashes at sea) ceremony is presided over by religious personnel and attended by friends or family of the deceased on a boat. Music, speakers, food and drinks can also be included.


Themed Sea Burials (Scattering Ashes at Sea) Are Planned around the Deceased’s Water Related Interests
Themed Sea Burials (Scattering Ashes at Sea) Are Planned around the Deceased’s Water Related Interests

The average cost of an attended sea burial (scattering ashes at sea) ranges from $500 to $2,000 depending on selected activities. One of the ways of commemorating in burial at sea (scattering ashes at sea) culture is the Mariner’s Farewell. It involves reading a verse during the ceremony, and tolling a bell eight times. Other activities within burial at sea (scattering ashes at sea) customs include playing music from a playlist and using flowers during the ceremony. Additional time for reflecting together on special memories may be also provided by the captain of the boat.


Organizers can propose a photo-documenting service or deliver the Bible if that's what family and friends of a deceased one desire. A popular example of an attended sea burial (scattering ashes at sea) includes that of John F Kennedy Jr. who was buried by the US navy off the Massachusetts coast.


Unattended Sea Burial


As opposed to an attended sea burial (scattering ashes at sea), unattended sea burials (scattering ashes at sea) are done exclusively by a service provider and there is no one else present at the ceremony; not even friends or family. However, this option is noticeably cheaper than an attended burial at sea (scattering ashes at sea) with most service providers charging approximately $200 to $400. Be sure to pick a reputable service provider and ask relevant questions like how they can guarantee that your requests are incorporated into your loved one’s sendoff even in your absence. Also, double-check to make sure that the chosen service provider follows burial at sea (scattering ashes at sea) regulations for full body burials or a simple scattering ashes at sea ceremony.


Themed Sea Burial


A themed sea burial (scattering ashes at sea) is a personalized ceremony that can be done before or after scattering the ashes at sea. The bereaved plan this ceremony around the deceased’s water-related interests such as fishing, boat riding, surfing or water rafting among others. You can also arrange for a fireworks display over water or a private bonfire at the beach with friends and family. The possibilities are limitless depending on how unique you want the tribute to be.



Sea Burial (Scattering Ashes at Sea) Customs and Traditions around the World


Buddhists


Scattering ashes at sea is rare in this religion; Buddhists cremate their deceased and place the ashes in a grave or a columbarium. As an expression of bereavement and filial piety, a Buddhist funeral should be simple, solemn and dignified. However, the Buddhist Churches of America and the North American branch of Japanese Jodo Shinshu Buddhism have created a service for Buddhist burials at sea, primarily for military service officials.


Catholics


In the Roman Catholic Church, internment is preferred over cremation. Cremation is allowed on condition that the ashes are later buried in a consecrated cemetery, mausoleum or columbarium. burial at sea (scattering ashes at sea) in a casket or an urn is only approved for cases where the deceased died at sea.


According to Catholic teachings, burial in a cemetery or other sacred places is the most befitting way to express faith and hope in the resurrection of the body. It also allows family and other loved ones to pray for and remember the deceased, as opposed to when the ashes of the deceased are scattered at sea.


Anglicans


Among Anglicans, scattering of ashes at sea is also discouraged. However, some churches have specific consecrated sea areas where ashes can be sprinkled.


The Book of Common Prayer (1928) of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States (ECUSA), a member of the Anglican Communion provides a specific prayer of committal for burials at sea.


Hinduism

In Hinduism, the Deceased’s Cremated Ashes Are Immersed in the Ganges River
In Hinduism, the Deceased’s Cremated Ashes Are Immersed in the Ganges River


Hindu funeral at sea customs are very specific and precisely defined. In the Hindu faith, there is no traditional burial, the bodies are cremated in a special ceremony, the ashes are collected and immersed in the Ganges River if possible or in any other river if not. This river flows through 100 cities and about 48 towns. In Varanasi alone, an estimated 40,000 bodies are cremated every year and the ashes immersed in the Ganges River.


In the USA, cremation of Hindu people takes place at a funeral home and the ashes are put in an urn and given to the family if requested. If it's possible, the ashes are taken to India to be spread in holy water or simply scattered at sea in nearby USA waters.


Islam


Burial on land is preferred in this religion. However, if a person dies at sea and it is not possible to bring the body back to land before decay, then full body burial is allowed.


In this case, a weight is tied to the feet of the body before it is lowered into the water. This is done in an area where the remains are not immediately eaten by scavengers.


Judaism


Judaism leaves no room for doubt - a dead person must be quickly buried and burial requires covering with earth. Despite all the burial at sea (scattering ashes at sea) advantages, the body is considered unburied when underwater according to this faith. Scattering ashes at sea is not permitted either.


Sea Burial (Scattering Ashes at Sea) Rules and Regulations by Country


Australia


Sea burials (Scattering ashes at sea) in Australia are covered by the Environmental Protection (Sea Dumping Act) 1981.



Whereas a permit is required for burial of bodies at sea, no permit is required for scattering ashes at sea. Permits are only granted in cases of a strong connection to the sea, such as long-serving navy personnel.


For the full body burial at sea (scattering ashes at sea), the deceased must not be embalmed or placed in a casket; it may only be sewn into a weighted shroud, burial must be in water deeper than 6,600 ft. and the site must not conflict with other marine users (e.g. trawling, shipping). In addition, burial at sea (scattering ashes at sea) can only be executed in certain locations, and by approved providers of burial at sea (scattering ashes at sea) services.

Sea burials (Scattering ashes at sea) are not reserved
Sea burials (Scattering ashes at sea) are not reserved


Applications for burials at sea cost $1675. The application form asks for details about the vessel to be used, where loading will take place, the location of the proposed burial site and reasons why burial at sea (scattering ashes at sea) is requested. For burial at sea (scattering ashes at sea) in Australia, a death certificate is required and the approval process usually takes 3-4 working days.


United Kingdom


In the UK, anyone can be buried at sea so long as the person arranging the sea burial (scattering ashes at sea) has a license. The licenses for burial at sea (scattering ashes at sea) UK comply with some environmental rules and are available for £175 from the MMO in England and Northern Ireland.


In England, scattering ashes at sea may be done freely, but full body burial at sea (scattering ashes at sea) UK is only permitted at 3 sites in the country; off The Needles, Isle of Wight; between Hastings and Newhaven; and off Tynemouth, North Tyneside. In Scotland, there are 2 designated sites for burial at sea (scattering ashes at sea); 210 miles west of Oban and 15 miles west of John O’Groats. Permission for another site of burial at sea (scattering ashes at sea) can be requested; however you need to provide exact coordinates and evidence that the site is suitable for a funeral at sea.


burial at sea (scattering ashes at sea) regulations in the UK dictate that applicants must provide a certificate from a doctor that the body is clear of fever and infection, and a coroner may also need to be informed. The person being buried must not be embalmed and should be clad in light, biodegradable clothing.


The MMO requires that the coffin for burial at sea (scattering ashes at sea) in the UK be made from solid softwood and not contain any plastic, lead, copper or zinc. Two-inch (50mm) holes must be drilled throughout, and about 200kg should be clamped to the base to make sure it degrades and to protect the area from contamination. This burial at sea (scattering ashes at sea) regulation aims to respect environmental protection goals.



United States


Full body burial at sea (scattering ashes at sea) in the USA requires a licensed funeral director to make specific preparations that ensure the body or coffin sinks quickly; one of a burial at sea (scattering ashes at sea) regulations is that a minimum of 20 holes must be drilled into the casket to facilitate rapid flooding and venting of air.


The MPRSA general permit for burial at sea (scattering ashes at sea) doesn’t require an application; the permit simply requires EPA notification within 30 days of the burial. All burials at sea conducted under the MPRSA general permit must be reported to the EPA Region from which the vessel carrying the remains departed. EPA also has an online tool which enables individuals to enter information into a simple form and report the burial at sea (scattering ashes at sea) procedure directly.


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires that the site of interment be 3 nautical miles from land and at a depth of at least 600 ft. However, in east central Florida, the Dry Tortugas, Florida and west of Pensacola and Florida to the Mississippi River Delta, sea burials (scattering ashes at sea) are only authorized in ocean waters at least 1,800 ft. deep. The closest sufficient depths in USA are off Long Island, Ocracoke and Miami.


Mind that the mentioned MPRSA general permit authorizes burial at sea (scattering ashes at sea) of human remains only. Pet ashes or ashes of other animals require a special permit.


The full-body burial at sea (scattering ashes at sea) costs in the USA start from $5,000 but can increase to $10,000 depending on the length of the journey, the number of passengers and any additional services.



The Pros and Cons of Choosing a Burial at Sea (Scattering Ashes at Sea)


Pros:


These are some burial at sea (scattering ashes at sea) benefits that are worth mentioning;


Sea burial (Scattering ashes at sea) is cost effective compared to traditional burial. The total cost of a traditional cemetery burial in the USA is approximately $9,000. This fee covers just the main items such as the funeral director's services, a casket, embalming fee, the grave site, headstone and a few other things. Fortunately, the burial at sea (scattering ashes at sea) procedure does not require most of those additional services, which makes it ideal.


burial at sea (scattering ashes at sea) is a personal tribute for sea lovers. Sending-off a deceased loved one with a memorial that honors their past interests or bucket list is a beautiful way to commemorate a lost life. Scattering ashes at sea is also seen as a way of returning to nature, for some millennials.


Among other burial at sea (scattering ashes at sea) advantages is the fact that it is also eco-friendlier. Natural microbial processes, time, and corrosion eventually break down and disperse the wooden or metal caskets into basic natural elements as opposed to cemetery burial that pollutes the underground with embalming fluids.


Cons:


Sea burial (Scattering ashes at sea) is an irreversible process. Once executed, it can't be undone. The process starts with incinerating the deceased’s body, before finally sending them off with a water funeral in form of scattering ashes at sea. The deceased there after stays at sea forever.


There is no physical memorial to commemorate your loved one. Whereas a traditional cemetery burial leaves the bereaved with a grave site to visit, it's not the same case for sea burials (scattering ashes at sea). Having a physical site where to commemorate a deceased loved one eases the grieving process for some people.


Religious restrictions against sea burials (scattering ashes at sea): Most religions around the world, besides Hinduism either strongly prohibit sea burials (scattering ashes at sea) or don’t have clear structures for or against scattering ashes at sea. This alternative to cemetery burial is mostly embraced for only humanist funerals.


Scattering Ashes at Sea Is a Legal Funeral Alternative in Most Countries
Scattering Ashes at Sea Is a Legal Funeral Alternative in Most Countries

Can I Scatter Cremated Remains/Ashes at Sea?


Different countries have different rules governing the scattering of ashes at sea and internal, non-ocean waters like lakes and rivers of the state. Contact your country’s environmental agency, health agency, or mortuary board to determine any legal requirements that may apply to the scattering of ashes at sea and the non-ocean waters.


Australia


When it comes to Australia, almost everything regarding scattering ashes at sea is allowed. You neither need any permits, nor are there payments to effectuate. Similarly to the parks, beaches and other public spaces, the general restriction is to be evaluated in moral spheres rather than legally. If you want to scatter the ashes on a private stretch of a lake, request for the owner’s permission. If you decide to use an urn; due to the country's limitations, it's required to be equipped with the biodegradable one. Depending on the particular state and authorities' provisions, rules for or against scattering ashes at sea may vary.


United Kingdom


Regulations regarding scattering ashes at sea in the UK are equally liberal as in Australia. For the UK, you don’t need a license to spread ashes in tidal coastal waters. However, you will need to comply with Environment Agency Guidance in coastal waters.


You don’t need a license or permit to scatter ashes at sea. However, if you are scattering within 5 miles of the coast, or over a river or a lake, then the Environmental Agency guidelines require that;


  1. You don’t scatter any non-biodegradable tributes, such as personal items or wreaths made with plastic.

  2. You find a spot that’s away from any buildings or marinas and avoid places where people might be bathing or fishing.

  3. You stay more than 1km upstream of any place where water is being collected. You can cross check with your Environmental Agency.

  4. You scatter the ashes very close to the water’s surface and try to avoid windy days.


United States


When scattering cremation ashes at sea in the USA, the Environmental Protection Agency requires that the ashes be dropped at least three nautical miles from land and within 30 days, the bereaved must submit a report citing; the location, the distance from shore, the water depth and name of the vessel involved in the scattering ritual. Flowers and wreaths made of readily biodegradable materials in the sea may be placed at the burial site.


All sea burials (scattering ashes at sea) conducted must be reported within 30 days to your EPA Region. Some of the different regions include;


  • Region 1 - Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont

  • Region 2 - New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands‘

  • Region 3 - District of Columbia, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia

  • Region 4 - Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee among others


In the USA, the ashes along with a completed burial at sea (scattering ashes at sea) Request package should be forwarded to the burial at sea (scattering ashes at sea) Coordinator at the desired port of embarkation.


For urn sea burial (scattering ashes at sea), the ashes must be in a biodegradable urn or temporary container and instead of scattering the ashes; you can choose to release the whole urn into water.


Alternatively, the ashes can be added to an environmentally-safe cast concrete and used to create new marine habitats for fish and other forms of sea life.


Canada


Ashes can be scattered anywhere in Canada, as long as you acquire the permission. The approval can be given by a landowner for private spaces or government for municipal and public ones. Therefore, in the case of scattering ashes at sea, the farther offshore water areas will be the jurisdiction of the federal government under the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. In Victoria, local councils generally don’t require you to get permission, but remember that these laws vary depending on your location.


The Cost of Scattering Ashes at Sea in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia


USA


Unattended services of scattering ashes at sea in the USA can cost $100 -$400. Attended services of scattering ashes at sea (with mourners on the boat) start around $250 -$1,000 for up to 10 passengers, but can cost $1,000 -$5,000 or more. A good compromise is provided by a special service, which can be executed in California, thanks to the flexible regulations of this state. Remains can be scattered already on 500 yards from the shore, which enables watching the ceremony from the coast. In this case, the burial at sea (scattering ashes at sea) cost lowers to $150-$800.


Canada


Marine Eco Tours based in Victoria on Vancouver Island, offers a package for scattering ashes at sea cost, anywhere in Southern British Columbia for only $585 for 2 attending people. There is an extra $50 charge for each extra person and the maximum number of passengers allowed is 10.


UK


Ashes can be loaded into fireworks, transformed into diamonds, tattoo ink or a vinyl record but many people love to return to nature after death; so, they choose scattering their ashes at sea for its elegance and simplicity. A brief ceremony of scattering ashes at sea in the UK starts at £60 an hour on the East Devon coast. A similar trip on Cardiff Bay costs around £50 for 30 minutes. The cost of scattering ashes at sea is a very economic choice that makes sea burials (scattering ashes at sea) quite popular in the UK.


Australia


Organization of a small on-boat ceremony of scattering ashes at sea in Sydney, Australia will cost you around $500-1050 per hour, depending on the type of boat and the number of people attending the burial at sea (scattering ashes at sea) service. The actual cost of scattering ashes at sea may vary, depending on the service provider and the city in which you reside.


The Cost of an Urn Burial


The requisite of sea burials (scattering ashes at sea) are for the urn to be biodegradable. Biodegradable urns designed for funerals at sea range in price from $59 to $250. One of the newest peculiarities in sea burial (scattering ashes at sea) is the Eco Scattering Urn - a cylinder-shaped bamboo urn, equipped with an open/close mechanism on the upper side, which enables it to scatter ashes at sea on its own. This special locking feature gives you the ability to scatter and then re-secure the remaining ashes in the urn. Its cost ranges from $49 to $79.


How Eco Scattering Works


To Load:

  1. Remove wood locking pin, then remove top

  2. Pour in cremated remains into the urn

  3. Place top back on and line up locking pin holes in the 'closed' position

  4. Place locking pin back in hole to secure top to base

To Scatter:

  1. Remove wood locking pin

  2. Rotate top 180 degrees to the 'open' position

  3. Re-insert locking pin

  4. Wave urn away from your body to scatter ashes at sea


The Ashes of a Deceased Can Also Be Turned into a Memorial Reef
The Ashes of a Deceased Can Also Be Turned into a Memorial Reef

The Cost of Turning Ashes into a Reef


Nowadays, in order to commemorate deceased loved ones, unique underwater cemeteries are being created densely. These are also known as memorial reefs and they are eco-friendly memorial venues, constructed of concrete, mixed with the deceased’s ashes and mold. As time passes, it becomes richer with natural components, hosting thousands of marine creatures. One must admit that the possibility of arranging an imaginative entourage like this, is one of the many benefits of burials at sea.


The cost of turning a deceased loved one into a reef may vary. In Florida, the cost of this specific burial at sea (scattering ashes at sea) service ranges from $2,495 -$6,995 and it includes constructing, positioning and GPS locating, preparing and putting a bronze plaque on the memorial reef and certificates for family members to keep. In San Diego Bay, the memorial reef interment starts at $2,400, whereas the cost in Mexico is around $3,000. Ashes into reef prices in Canada range from $600 to $4,000. Large memorial reefs are a bit expensive since they are built to accommodate up to four sets of remains.



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