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What You Need To Know About A Burial At Sea

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If you are planning on a burial at sea, be aware that there is some red-tape due primarily to the maritime laws that govern what may and what may not be put in the ocean. Talk with your funeral director regarding the logistics of an ocean interment and to be sure to stay within the confines of maritime law.

Some things to know about an ocean burial include:

Plan on heading three miles offshore. If you are planning on burying a body or the uncremated remains of someone at sea, you will need to plan on 600' deep.  Some regions require a depth of 1800' for full-body burials in the ocean. There are no such guidelines for scattering ashes at sea, which may make cremation an easier option when planning an interment at sea.

You need permission. When you are burying remains on private property, get the landowner's permission first. If you are burying a body at sea, you will need the permission of the government as it is illegal to dump anything in the ocean without following federal maritime laws and guidelines. Be sure to let the funeral director know of your intent so they can complete the governmental reporting necessary to stay within the law.

Scattering ashes is easier. When you are burying cremated remains at sea, there is no depth requirement. A good rule of thumb is to plan on scattering at least 100' from any public roads, paths, or areas. This is often a more discreet approach to take that doesn't require chartering a boat or hiring a vessel to take you offshore.

Contact the EPA within 30 days. It is important to remember that you need to notify the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) within 30 days of the ceremony or service to indicate that you have buried remains at sea. This written notification includes the name of the deceased, the date scattered at sea, the coordinates of the burial, the funeral director's name, and, if burying uncremated remains, a disclosure of whether the body appeared to sink to the bottom of the ocean floor.

Use biodegradable flowers and memorials. Never toss an urn or receptacle in the ocean that is not biodegradable. Instead, use this after burying remains as a time capsule for notes, mementos, and memories that you bury in a spot where others may come and pay their respects, if you wish. Otherwise, dispose of the urn or cremains container responsibly.

Some cultures may disapprove. Be aware that not every culture approves of a burial at sea, including those of Taoist, Islam, and traditional Jewish faiths. For this reason, some may choose to have cremated remains buried at sea discreetly, rather than the pomp and circumstance of burying a body in the ocean.

If you or a loved one plan on being buried at sea, make sure that you are aware of the maritime laws governing this type of funeral. Talk with your funeral director about your different options as well as the costs for a burial at sea. For more information, contact a cremation service like Final Care Cremation Services.