Burial at sea is a centuries-old practice that has recently come back into style as ocean lovers and their survivors seek eco-friendly alternatives to traditional burial. Ocean burial is a natural, environmentally-friendly way to honor the deceased’s connection to the sea. 

The most common options include:

  • Scattering ashes in the water
  • Reef ball burial
  • Underwater cemetery internment
  • Full-body burial at sea

Implanting Ashes on a Coral Reef

Cremated remains, when combined with concrete, can be molded into a long-lasting underwater memorial. Jewelry, flowers or other meaningful objects can be added before the memorial is placed underwater. 

Reef Ball Burial – Eternal Reefs

Eternal Reefs partners with the Reef Ball Foundation to create small underwater habitats from pH-neutral concrete and cremated remains. The reef balls (which are actually bell-shaped) weigh between 250-1,800kg/550-4,000lbs and may include the remains of one to four persons and/or pets. 

Families can participate in memorial reef deployment and visit their loved one’s underwater memorial whenever weather conditions allow. All reef balls are placed in areas open to recreational diving. Learn more about their offerings and view pricing on the Eternal Reefs website.

Underwater Internment – Neptune Memorial Reef

Off the coast of Key Biscayne, Florida, USA is an underwater cemetery designed to look like the Lost City of Atlantis. Neptune Memorial Reef is the final resting place for more than 120,000 people and pets. Remains are mixed with concrete and can be molded into the shape of columns, sea stars or other marine life. 

Neptune Memorial Reef sits in approximately 12 meters/40 feet of water and is open to divers and snorkelers. When the artificial reef reaches capacity, it will cover more than 6.5 hectares/16 acres.

Watch the video below to see Neptune Memorial Reef and learn more about what they offer. For pricing, visit Neptune Memorial Reef’s website.

Underwater Cemetery – Solace Reef

In southwest England, 4.8 kilometers/3 miles east of Weymouth, lies Solace Reef. Made up of individual Solace Stones, the reef is the first of its kind in the UK. Each triangular-shaped stone is designed to carry the ashes of a loved one and includes an engraved granite plaque. Learn more on Solace Reef’s website.

Full Body Burial at Sea

During a full body burial, the deceased is wrapped in a biodegradable casket or shroud and lowered into the ocean – at least 4.8 kilometers/3 miles offshore. Check with local authorities before making arrangements. A license, permit or other type of formal approval is required in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, The US, UK and many other countries. 

How to Plan an Ocean Burial

Before choosing an ocean burial for yourself or a loved one, it’s important to do your research. Even if you simply want to scatter ashes, check with local authorities. They may also be able to recommend a location where the ashes will not be disturbed by currents or waves.

It’s also a good idea to share your plans with friends and family. First, to ensure your wishes are honored, and second, to decide what type of ceremony you would like. Most companies allow a small group of mourners to be on the boat during deployment. At Neptune Memorial Reef, loved ones who are certified divers may be underwater when the departed is added to the reef.

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