Although burials at sea are much less common than in the days of sailing ships, they still occur on occasions when people die during a voyage and the boat is still a long way from its destination. A service is held on board and the weighted coffin is lowered into the sea.
Sometimes a burial at sea is carried out in accordance with a dead person's wishes, or the ashes are scattered over the waves after a cremation.
In ancient times sea burial was often practiced as a cheap method of disposing of dead slaves, foreigners and people considered of little importance. Today some islands, where land is scarce, reserve parts of the sea near the coast as cemeteries.
Viking chiefs before the 10th Century were cremated on burning ships to symbolize a voyage to the land of the dead.