Photography by Martina Tannery
It is a haven for dolphins, sea turtles and manatees. It is a choice spot for fishing and surfing. It is a landmark in local geography.
It is the Sebastian Inlet, and its 100-year history has had some unexpected and colorful twists and turns.
Centennial celebrations, held from May 2019 to May 2020, commemorated the 1919 establishment of the Sebastian Inlet District to maintain the inlet — the navigable channel that connects the Indian River Lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean.
To this day, the Sebastian Inlet District, which is governed by a commission, has the responsibility of maintaining this channel. “The main mission of the district is really to provide safe navigation through the inlet,” says Executive Director James D. Gray. The channel is dredged every four to five years, on average, to prevent it from filling in due to accretion, Gray adds. Dredged at the same time is the “Sand Trap,” a 42-acre depression that accumulates sand. These efforts keep the inlet navigable. Coastal engineers and hydrographic survey experts are essential for this work.