Business Overview

Families and friends who lose loved ones look for memorable places to bury the deceased or scatter the deceased’s ashes. For some, there’s no place more appropriate than the sea. Burial at sea service businesses let families and friends say goodbye to deceased loved ones by burying the body or scattering the ashes at sea.

While these businesses frequently offer both full-body burials and ash scattering services, most of their business tends to be ash scatterings. With cremation rates above 50 percent and rising, the demand for this type of burial service is expected to increase in the near future.

(Importantly, this type of business is not a crematorium. Instead, it’s a way for people to scatter the already-cremated remains of their loved ones.)

Who is this business right for?

Anyone who is empathetic and loves the sea may enjoy running a burial at sea business. Empathy is a necessary attribute for anyone working in the funeral industry, and a passion for open water helps business owners connect with their customers.

What happens during a typical day at a burial at sea service?

Running a burial at sea service business involves a lot of different work. On any given day, business owners might be:

  • Planning burial services with family members
  • Conducting burial services on boats
  • Coordinating with other funeral directors and/or boat captains
  • Mailing burial certificates and notifying the EPA of burials
  • Maintaining boats and conducting safety checks as necessary
  • Marketing the business and managing back-end operations

The burials themselves are multi-step affairs. Business owners or staff have to prep boats, welcome service attendees, perform any required safety demonstrations, leave the dock and head to sea, conduct the service itself, return to port, see attendees off the boat, clean the boat, and replenish supplies.

What is the target market?

The target market for a burial at sea business is the families of deceased sea lovers. Families of former Navy and Coast Guard personnel, avid anglers and sailors, and anyone else who spent time on the water might want to wish their loved one farewell on the ocean.

How does a burial at sea service make money?

A burial at sea service makes money by selling on-water funeral services. Usually, families or friends attend services, but a few customers may elect to simply have the business conduct an unattended service.

What is the growth potential for a burial at sea service?

Burial at sea businesses may be small operations that have a single boat and operate out of one port, or they can be larger companies that have multiple boats and offer services in several states. Smaller businesses that have just one boat frequently offer other boating activities, such as marine tours and transportation. Larger businesses may offer other activities but don’t always.

Equinox Island Transit is an example of a typical one-boat business. Located in Rockland, Maine, the Equinox primarily offers marine transit to and from the surrounding islands. They also perform burials at sea.

Some larger businesses in the industry include Sea Services, New England Burials at Sea and Ashes on the Sea. All of these businesses have locations in multiple states and on both coasts.