Throughout the year, the Museum offers lectures and discussions about the Lowcountry’s history, culture, and environment. Topics vary and guest presenters come from around the region.

Select weekdays (typically Wednesdays)  from  August–May the Discovery Lecture Series is offered.
$7 per person (for the majority of programs)
Reservations required: call 843 689 6767 ext. 223 or register online.

The Coastal Discovery Museum also offers aHistory Forum” series.  Check the event calendar or call for other lectures, talks and guest speakers offered throughout the year. These programs are $10 per person for non members, $5 for basic members,and free for supporting and above membership levels.

Discovery Lectures – 2017:

Shore Bird Migration

Friday, February 10th- 3 PM $7 per person
Presented by Nick Wallover

Every spring, thousands of shorebirds utilize South Carolina’s beach and marsh habitats. These habitats provide critical stopover areas for birds on their northbound migration to breeding sites, while others will nest in these beautiful coastal landscapes of South Carolina. Come learn about the important role SC plays in the life-cycle of spring migrants and local nesting species, and what we can do to protect this incredible part of our state’s natural heritage. Nicholas Wallover is currently the Regional Biologist for the ACE Basin National Estuarine Research Reserve and Manager of the McKenzie Field Station at Bennett’s Point. He has worked on numerous coastal protected species including sea turtles, shorebirds, and dolphins. Register Here

Human Impact on Wild Fish Populations and Sustainable Aquaculture

Wednesday, February 15th – 3 PM $7 per person
Presented by Al Stokes

In 1800, the world’s population reached 1 billion for the first time.  In 2014, the world’s population has grown to more than 7 billion.  According to the United Nations World Food and Agriculture Organization, there must be a 70% increase in food production to continue to feed a growing population expected to reach 9.3 billion by 2050. Wild fish populations are in trouble and some researchers estimate a collapse in world’s fisheries by 2050.  Aquaculture accounts for 47% of the world total fish supplies.  Research and development of new more sustainable production systems will be necessary to meet the food needs of a fast growing world population.Al Stokes is a biologist with over 35 years of experience working for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources with a diverse number of aquatic species,  fisheries management and aquaculture programs.  Mr. Stokes is currently the Manager of the Waddell Mariculture Center in Bluffton. Register Here

Winged Wonders of the Lowcountry

Wednesday, February 22nd- 3 PM $7 per person
Presented by Lila Arnold

Through public education, Lowcountry Raptors fosters a connection between people and birds of prey. The organization’s goal is to help the human part of the natural community learn to value, understand, and honor the role of wildlife while preserving the natural and cultural heritage of the Lowcountry. Through her programs, founder Lila Arnold strives to create a future generation of bird lovers. All the birds of prey featured in the program are non-releasable due to permanent injury and can no longer survive in the wild.  Come see these magnificent birds up close and hear about the role they play in the ecosystem of Lowcountry. Register Here

A Fisherman’s Guide to Seafood in our Lowcountry Restaurants

Wednesday, March 1st – 3 PM, $7 per person
Presented by David Harter

David Harter, president of the Hilton Head Island Sportfishing Club and tour guide for SCDNR’s Waddell Mariculture Center will give advice about what are the best seafoods to order for your palette, health and your wallet when dining in our local restaurants and buying fish at our seafood distributors. David has a passion for the Lowcountry waters and the creatures that live in them, and avid fisherman. He is an expert in the Lowcountry marine ecosystem and the fish that inhabit it. Register Here

All About Crustaceans

Wednesday, March 8th –  3 PM, $7 per person
Presented by Bob Bender

Dating back to the mid Cambrian period, some 500 plus million years ago, the more than 67,000 described species of crustacea include some very tasty critters found in local waters today. They are featured in this presentation that includes some of their lesser know yet quite fascinating cousins. Also – SEE LIVE CRITTERS. Artist, naturalist and curator of the Lowcountry Estuarium – A Coastal Learning Center in the Town of Port Royal, Bob Bender has spent the past 24 years exploring and passing on his acquired knowledge of our unique Port Royal Sound Estuarine System and the creatures that inhabit it. Register Here

Lowcountry Snakes

Wednesday, March 15th –  3 PM, $7 per person
Presented by Tony Mills

This lecture will cover the natural history of many snakes commonly found in the Lowcountry. From the venomous rattle snakes to colorful milk snakes, our region is home to numerous species that play essential roles in our ecosystem. Join Tony for an up close and personal session with these fascinating cold blooded animals. Live snakes will be shown. Tony Mills is the education director for the LowCountry institute. Tony produces and conducts educational programs for local schools, teachers and the general public and has written numerous newspaper columns and articles on local plants and animals. He co-wrote the book Lizards and Crocodilians of the Southeast (UGA press June 2009) and currently co-produces and hosts the television program “Coastal Kingdom” based on Lowcountry animals and plants. Register Here

Coastal Plant Communities

Thursday, March 23rd- 3 PM, $7 per person
Presented by Laura Lee Rose

Come and learn from local expert gardener Laura Lee Rose the nature of the diverse Lowcountry plant communities and the important role the communities and plants that make them play in our environment. From fire tolerant plants to carnivorous plants, the Lowcountry has many natural gardens to visit and enjoy: floodplains, swamps, upland forests, maritime forests, savannahs, sand dunes, and beaches.  Each “garden” has its rare, occasional, or common fauna and flora. Gardeners get really excited about individual plants and will tout the benefits of this or that one.  We should also recognize that individuals are part of a larger group or community.  Laura Lee Rose is the Consumer Horticulture Agent in Colleton and Beaufort Counties.  She has worked in the horticulture industry since 1987, and for the Clemson Cooperative Extension Service since 2006.  Laura Lee is a South Carolina native, Certified Nursery Professional, Master Gardener Coordinator, and bona fide “plant nerd”.  Past president and charter member of the South coast Chapter of the South Carolina Native Plant Society, she lives and gardens on St. Helena Island. Register Here

Colonial Nesting Birds of SC – Seabirds and Wading Birds

Wednesday, March 29th – 3 PM, $7 per person
Presented by Tom Murphy

Colonial Nesting Sea and Wading birds present particular management concerns in that a large percentage of a species can be located in just a few nesting locations.  This means that the loss of just a few nesting sites can impact the entire species in the state.  Historically, several wading bird colonies supported more than 10,000 nesting pairs.  Following SCDNR’s work with the endangered Brown Pelican they expanded our work to include additional seabird species.  Likewise their work with the Endangered Wood Stork was expanded to include additional wading bird species. Murphy will document the monitoring and management activities of SCDNR over a period of several decades.  During this time a variety of census techniques for colonial nesting birds in South Carolina were implemented and the agency established baseline population data.  During survey years SCDNR counted over 59,000 wading bird nests of 14 species at over 100 colonies.  In addition, they counted over 20,000 seabird nests of 11 species at 76 colonies. Tom Murphy, a retired biologist from the South Carolina Department of Natural resources who was in charge of endangered species during his long career, will share his knowledge of the natural history and nesting behavior of the diverse colonial nesting birds of the Lowcountry and the efforts in place to protect them. Register Here

Manatees in South Carolina

Wednesday, April 5 th – 3 PM, $7 per person
Presented by Dr. Al Segars, SCDNR

Surprising to many in South Carolina, we appear to have anexpanding population of Florida Manatees that spend the warmer months in our local waters. Join Dr. Al Segars of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and learn about these amazing creatures, their stay in our local waters and how we impact them in positive….and negative ways. Dr Al Segars is a veterinarian with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources with a long carrier studying the endangered and threatened species in our coast.  Register Here


Zika Virus: What are the risks from Zika and other mosquito-transmitted viruses in the Lowcountry and Caribbean?

Wednesday, April 12th – 3 PM, $7 per person
Presented by Dr. John Edman

One domesticated African mosquito, Aedes aegypti, is primarily responsible for the spread of yellow fever, dengue fever, Chikungunya and now Zika in the New World.  A related more cold tolerant Asian mosquito, Aedes albopictus, also has invaded the Americas in recent years and can transmit these same viruses.  Recent introduction of Zika virus into Brazil and its rapid spread throughout South and Central American and the Caribbean Islands has raised new and greater concerns about these two imported mosquito species and the expanding disease threat that they pose in the United States. Limited outbreaks of Dengue have occurred recently in Texas, Florida and Hawaii so a similar pattern could occur with Zika virus when people infected in the Caribbean or other parts of Latin America bring it to the U.S. This lecture will contrast the biology and distribution of these two vector mosquitoes and how they are able to maintain and transmit flaviviruses to people.  The disease symptoms and threat posed to the U.S., and South Carolina in particular, will be discussed along with ways to protect yourself when traveling to areas known to have Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya viruses.

Dr. John D. Edman retired to Sun City Hilton Head after a 40 year academic career of teaching, research and administration at the University of California, Davis, the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory.  His broad interests in the behavior and ecology of blood-feeding arthropods and the infectious diseases they transmit, resulted in nearly 200 research publications, reviews, book chapters and a text for graduate and advance undergraduate students. Register Here

Responsible Oystering in the Lowcountry

Wednesday, April 26th – 3 PM, $7 per person
Presented by Andrew Carmines

A native of Hilton Head Island, Andrew Carmines grew up exploring the salt marshes and coastal environments of the Lowcountry. Andrew has always been interested in the ocean, and feels most at home on the waters of Port Royal Sound. Andrew is the General Manager at Hudson’s Seafood Restaurant on Hilton Head Island. In 2013 Andrew founded the  Shell Ring Oyster Company, an environmentally positive Mariculture operation, and Oyster Shellstock Shipper. Andrew will discuss in detail, the process of producing single oysters from the brood stock, to the hatchery, to the upweller, and ultimately to the consumer.  The process is detailed and heartbreaking at times.  Andrew will take the attendees through the process from start to finish, and also answer any questions on where the project is going, and what the future holds for Oyster Farming in the Lowcountry.

Carmines is currently the General Manager of Hudson’s seafood restaurant in addition to operating his oyster farming company. In addition, he is the founder of the Hilton Head Island Seafood Festival, the major fundraising arm for the DMC Foundation. He has also been a staff member of the Coastal Discovery Museum’s Sea Turtle Protection Project and served on many local agencies’ boards of directors. Register Here

History Forum:

The Life and Times of General Stephen Elliott, Jr.

Tuesday, February 28th – 3 PM, $10 per person for non members, $5 for basic members,and free for supporting and above membership levels
Presented by Lt. Neil Baxley (Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office)

Reservations: Please call 843-689-6767, ext. 224

Born in 1832, General Stephen Elliott, Jr. was one of Beaufort County’s favorite sons.  He was one of Beaufort’s most able military figures, known for his acts of bravery and outstanding leadership in the defense of Beaufort.  Elliott served as Lieutenant and later Captain of the Beaufort Volunteer Artillery, which was based in the Beaufort Arsenal.  He fought for the Confederacy as a Brigadier General and served with the Palmetto Guards during the attack on Fort Sumter in April 1861 and in the Battle of the Crater in Petersburg, Virginia. There, he was gravely wounded on July 30, 1864, while leading the South Carolina troops at the Union mine explosion point.  These battle wounds eventually led to his demise in 1866 while he was running for Congress of the United States. In his program Baxley will present a contrast between Stephen Elliott’s life as a planter before the war and his life as a practically destitute Confederate officer after the war.  He will also discuss the impact of the war on South Carolina during the Reconstruction Period that followed after the war.

Our speaker, Lieutenant Colonel Neil Baxley, is an expert on the history of Beaufort County.  After his service in the Marine Corp, he began his law enforcement career in the Sheriff’s Office, working in the Enforcement Division and becoming the Training Sergeant.  Baxley was reassigned to duties solely dedicated to homeland security, hurricane preparation, and emergency planning and achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

Siege of Savannah, 1779

March 14, 2017 – 3 PM – Presented by Aaron Bradford, Military Interpretation Coordinator –  Coastal Heritage Society

Reservations: Please call 843-689-6767, ext. 224

BFP March 2015 AaronIn the fog of the early morning on October 9, 1779, armies clashed at the Western edge of Savannah, as French and American troops attempted to take back the occupied city from the British, who had captured it in 1778.  After just under an hour, 800 men had been killed or wounded in what would be one of the bloodiest battles of the American Revolution and a crushing defeat for the Americans and French.  Learn more about this fascinating conflict and its place in the larger narrative of American history with Coastal Heritage Society Military Interpretation Coordinator Aaron Bradford, who will speak on this topic at Coastal Discovery Museum’s History Forum on March 14th.  A question and answer period will follow.

Growing up in Beaufort in the 1950s and 1960s

April 19, 2017 -3 PM – Presented by Bernie Schein –  Sponsored in part by:Reservations: Please call 843-689-6767, ext. 224

Bernie Schein was a lifelong friend of another famous Lowcountry author, Pat Conroy, who wrote, “Bernie Schein is the funniest man alive, or so he has dogmatically maintained during burdensome decades I have known him.”  Conroy continues, “Bernie has staked his claim on the literary landscape of the South.” Schein will discuss what it was like growing up in Beaufort, South Carolina, in the 1950s and 1960s where everyone in town knew everyone else, making everyone either famous or infamous.  Schein says, “A stranger in town was as rare and odd as a UFO settling on the banks of the Beaufort River; but although we all knew each other or thought we did, what we didn’t know was far more powerful and important than what we did know.”  Listen to Schein recall spirited stories about Beaufort’s residents that will leave you laughing, infuriated, and compassionate.  Hear what it meant to live in the modern South as white, black, Jewish, Christian, military, civilian, sane, insane, young, old, male, female, gay, and straight.

BASF and Conservation in Beaufort County

May 17, 3 PM – Presented by Dr. William Bryan, Georgia State College

Reservations: Please call 843-689-6767, ext. 224

basf captain dave smallerIn 1969, an unlikely coalition of African American fishermen, vacationers, environmental activists, and developersjoined hands to block the construction of a massive petrochemical plant by the BASF corporation near Hilton Head Island. What began as a local issue quickly became a test case for the growing power of environmentalism nationally, and an indicator of the sweep of the first Earth Day—one of the largest mass demonstrations in American history. This talk will consider how this local environmental battle blossomed into a quintessential national example of the growing concern for the environment in the 1970s, and how such a diverse group of activists were able to bridge their differences to  keislander ad basfep BASF from building in the Lowcountry. William D. Bryan is an historian and educator in Atlanta, Georgia, where he teaches at Georgia State University. Bryan’s work explores topics related to American environmental history, sustainability, economic development, tourism, and the American South. His first book will be published soon.  The Price of Permanence: Nature and Business in the New South (under contract with the University of Georgia Press) explores how nature conservation shaped the American South in the years after the Civil War. Bryan earned a Ph.D. in history from the Pennsylvania State University in 2013.