Arrangements for Burial at Sea in South Africa

February 26, 2016

Throwing ashes to the wind over the ocean or burial at sea is on the rise. Many people have requested that their ashes be scattered across the sea. Robin Williams was cremated the day after his death and his ashes scattered in San Francisco Bay.

Certainly people who love the ocean prefer the idea of being ‘buried’ there as apposed to being buried in a traditional cemetery. In the USA, burying a loved one at sea doesn’t require a special permit. However a coast guard captain’s license is required by those who take people out for an ocean burial.

Burial at sea of human remains which are not cremated is possible, but it can be a lengthy process as there are regulations involved. The casket also needs to be specially prepared so that it sinks to the ocean floor and stays there for good.

Weights Take the Body Down to a Watery Grave

Burial at SeaBurials at sea in South Africa on the other hand don’t make use of a coffin. A special biodegradable body bag is used and this is fitted with weights. Burials at sea are not your regular occurrence but they do happen when people request them.

Certainly no burial is permitted at sea unless it was specifically requested in the deceased’s will. If this was so, the funeral home will need to apply to the Department of Health for the burial to take place as the human remains will need to be placed in the special biodegradable body bag.

The remains are often transported by by the National Sea Rescue Institute or NSRI. They know that the burial has to take place a certain number of sea miles away from the coast. Entire family’s are not allowed for these burials and usually just the undertaker and one next-of-kin is allowed to accompany the the deceased.

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Burial at Sea can be Costly

More and more people are choosing to have funerals which are centred around not damaging the planet any further than what has already been done to it. Burial at sea is an eco-friendly alternative because not only are we returning our bodies to the environment, the body becomes food for other species.

Even though sea burials are grudgingly permitted in certain circumstances, sea burials in South Africa and around the world are largely opposed. The reason for this is that the site shouldn’t be in conflict with marine users for fishing etc and must be at a certain depth as well. Burial sites have to be located a long distance offshore. The costs of a long trip out to sea could be very costly too. If one were looking for a ‘green’ burial such as being buried at sea, the idea is to surely make it more affordable than a traditional funeral.

The One that Got Away

A sea burial, with all its legal issues, is costly. Whatever your reason is for choosing the burial of human remains at sea, you will find that it is not something that is encouraged as nature is a powerful force. There is always the fear that high tides and currents might well wash a body towards shore so that a fisherman reeling in his ‘catch’, might well wish that this is one catch that really did get away.

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All info was correct at time of publishing