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Scattering Ashes at Sea

Everything you need to know about the legality and practices of this memorable funeral type

If your loved one is enamored of the ocean, why not make it their final resting place? We, at Big Blue Sea Services, can help you send them on their next adventure in the gorgeous azure waters of the Atlantic Gulf Stream where they can ride the waves forever.

Is It Legal to Scatter Ashes at Sea?

Yes, scattering of ashes at sea is allowed under the law. But there are several regulations you have to follow.

Scattering Site

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allows cremated remains to be buried in the ocean. It does not matter how deep the waters are but it must be at least three nautical miles from land. One nautical mile is 1,852 meters or about 2,025 yards.

Non-human Remains

Ashes of non-human remains such as that of pets should not be mixed with human remains. If you want to scatter your pet’s remains, you need to secure a special permit from the EPA.


Non-biodegradable Materials

Only materials that decompose are allowed in sea burials. Plastic and metallic objects in wreaths and caskets should be removed before scattering the ashes at sea.

30-Day Notice

There is no need to secure a special permit from the EPA before you can scatter ashes at sea. However, you must notify them of a sea burial within 30 days after the ceremony. You can use this online reporting tool to notify them.

If you avail of our services, you won’t have to worry about this. We will take care of all the reportorial requirements. So you can focus on making a memorable farewell for your loved one.

Expendable Devices

Putting the ashes in expendable devices such as balloons or pyrotechnics are not allowed. These materials can be dangerous to marine life.

If you’re thinking of a Viking burial, the EPA does not allow floating funeral pyres too. Its uncontrolled burning can generate smoke and debris that may pose health and environmental hazards.

Ash-Scattering Ceremony

There is no standard ceremony for scattering someone’s ashes at sea. It largely depends on your creativity and preference.

scattering ashes by boatScattering from a Boat

This is the most popular type of ash scattering at sea ceremony. You can use your own boat or avail of our service. Aside from our standard packages, we also allow customized ceremonies. You can choose where to scatter the ashes anywhere between the Atlantic Gulf and the Bahamas.

What are the advantages of scattering ashes from a boat?

  • Privacy. The ceremony will only be attended by the people you want to be there.
  • Solemnity. Since only a limited number of people will be there, you can expect the ceremony to be both solemn and special.
  • Flexibility. Scattering the ashes from a boat lets you plan elaborate send-off ceremonies. You can also scatter the ashes even in deeper parts of the ocean.
  • Convenience. It’s easier to transport people and scatter the ashes from a boat.
  • Cost-effective. Compared with traditional burials, using a boat to scatter ashes at sea is considerably cheaper.

Religious Considerations

Though cremation and ash scattering ceremonies are becoming popular, not all religions allow it.

Islam, for example, has specific funeral rites that expressly forbids cremation. Confucian and Taoist tradition also believes in burying the body on the ground. While Orthodox and conservative Jews maintain a strict stance against cremation.

In some religions like Buddhism, Hinduism, and Sikhism, cremation is central to funeral rites. The Church of England and liberal Jewish sects also approve of cremation as an alternative to traditional burial. These religions also allow the scattering of ashes in bodies of water.

The Catholic Church has also just allowed priests to officiate in cremation ceremonies. But the guidelines on ash-scattering remains unclear.

If religion plays an important role in your or the deceased’s life, you may need to take these into consideration too.

cremated ashes placed in an urn

Themed Ceremonies

As we’ve mentioned, ash scattering ceremonies depend on your preference. For most people, it’s a way of celebrating the life of the deceased. While for others, it’s an expression of the deceased’s character and personality.

These beliefs gave birth to themed ash-scattering ceremonies. It’s a personal way of remembering the dead and honoring their memories.

The themes can be about the deceased’s favorite movie, book, or anything that is special to them. You can play their favorite songs or use their favorite flowers. If you’re scattering the ashes from a boat, you can also arrange for the decorations to reflect their favorite color. As long as you’re not violating any state or federal laws, anything goes.


EPA regulations that urns to be used for scattering ashes at sea should be water-soluble. This means that you can’t put them in plastic, metal, or ceramic cremation urns. Acceptable urn materials include paper, cardboard, and Himalayan rock salt among others. The urn should be designed to float then disintegrate after a few hours.

Is it possible to scatter the ashes at sea with a non-biodegradable urn? Yes, but you cannot dispose of the urn in the ocean. You can either pour the ashes into the ocean or take them out and scatter them by hand. But remember that it can get very windy at sea and the ashes can be blown back into your direction.

You shouldn’t have much trouble finding a suitable urn for sea burial ceremonies. Many online and onsite stores sell biodegradable urns in varying sizes and designs.

About The Author

is a firm believer in the power of a sense of spirituality and she wants to share that with the world. She also loves to write about art, design, and more.