As the poets have often said….parting has always been such sweet sorrow. This is why people put so much thought on how best to say their final farewell to their departed loved ones. For many a burial at sea ceremony is an ideal solution.
The Nuances of Sea Burial
No doubt the first thing that might come to mind when sea burial is mentioned, is the scattering of ashes across a large body of water. In truth, however, you do not necessarily have to be cremated in order for sea burial to take place. There are cases where the burial at sea ceremony may even involve the casket. In some traditions, the body of the relative who has passed away is lain on a sailcloth. The navy has traditionally wrapped the weighted body in a flag.
Now, some may think that burial at sea is something that you can do on your own. Think again. The physical logistics can be rather challenging. So are the legal logistics. You would need to be certain you are not breaking any laws. This is why it is best to let professionals handle the details for you of any burial at sea ceremony.
Burial at Sea and the Environmental Protection Agency
The Environmental Protection Agency, also known as EPA, only allows burial at sea under specific conditions. There are different rules for cremated and non-cremated remains. The rules for cremated remains are far simpler which is why this has become rather popular, as well as practical. One should note that legally, such a ceremony is limited to human remains. Simply put, burial of your pet at sea is not allowed.
For non-cremated remains, the body can only be dropped to the bottom of the sea when beyond three nautical miles from the nearest shore. The EPA also expressly prohibits the placement of non-biodegradable materials along with the remains. Cremated remains may not be placed in plastic urns, nor are you allowed to bury your loved one with plastic flowers or any kind of plastic monument or reefs.
The EPA also does not allow the burial of remains within US territorial waters of persons residing outside of the US. In the same manner, only vessels carrying the US flag may transport the body to the appropriate location in the sea for burial.
Burial at Sea, environment.gov.au
Burial At Sea – Information, funeralhelper.org