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  October–May the Discovery Lecture Series is offered.
$7 per person (for the majority of programs)

The Coastal Discovery Museum also offers a History Forum of the Lowcountry 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. The 2017-18 topics are listed below.

Discovery Lectures – 2019- 20:

The Coastal Discovery Museum’s Discovery Lecture Series offers  presentations from late September through April. Please check back to find a full schedule soon. All presentations are at 2 PM unless noted. Please check the online calendar to make your reservations.

[lightframe shortname=”coastaldiscoverymuseum” fallback=”simple” full_items=”yes” flow=”194706″ view_item=”149674″]Register Here[/lightframe]

The Hidden Beauty of Sand

Wednesday, February 19th – 2 PM – $7 per person
Tom Anderson

Join us as we explore the beauty and the complexity of sand.  Examine actual samples of red, yellow, pink, black, green and even purple sand from the lecturer’s private collection; explore the microscopic beauty of individual grains; inspect round, egg shaped, and star shaped sand grains to discover clues to their origin; watch sand dunes march along the beach and across vast deserts; observe individual sand grains bouncing in the wind; learn about the structure of various sand dunes; listen to recordings of “singing” and “barking sand”; meet some of the many ocean and land animals that make their home in the sand; and browse through an eclectic gallery of sand sculptures.  You will never look at sand the same way again.

After completing his education, Anderson joined the U. S. Navy as a medical officer, and practiced Emergency Medicine, Aerospace Medicine, and Undersea Medicine for most of his adult life. Tom’s academic achievements include an undergraduate degree in Applied Mathematics, a Master of Science degree and a PhD in Physics, a Doctor of Medicine degree and a Master of Public Health degree in International Health.  He resides in Bluffton, SC with his wife Elaine.  His hobbies include flying sailplanes, diving, woodworking, and traveling.  [lightframe shortname=”coastaldiscoverymuseum” fallback=”simple” flow=”170397″ view_item=”149674″ view_availability=”352585528″]Register Here[/lightframe]

A Community-based Oyster Shell Recycling and Bed Restoration Project

Monday, February 24th – 2 PM – $7 per person
Jean Fruh

Jean Fruh, Executive Director of The Outside Foundation will discuss how a small, local, grassroots non-profit (TOF) received funding from an environmental giant, Patagonia Inc., to establish a community-based oyster shell recycling and bed restoration project here on Hilton Head Island.

Jean is the Executive Director of The Outside Foundation. The Outside Foundation, a 501c3, was formed in 2014 with a mission to get kids outside and to protect and preserve our local environment. Jean is in her 14th year at Outside Brands where she serves as an interpretive naturalist/kayak guide, standup paddle board instructor, and internship program coordinator. Jean is a certified Low Country Master Naturalist and ACA L-2 Paddle Boarding Instructor. She currently serves on the “Keep Beaufort County Beautiful” Board and is a volunteer for Volunteers in Medicine.  [lightframe shortname=”coastaldiscoverymuseum” fallback=”simple” full_items=”yes” flow=”170397″ view_item=”149674″ view_availability=”352585533″] Register Here[/lightframe]

Conservation Through Sustainable Seafood

Wednesday, February 26th – 2 PM – $7 per person
Amy MacKown

Our marine habitats are changing rapidly. Due to increased water temperatures, decreased salinity and degraded habitats, now, more than ever, we need a strong understanding of how fish and other marine animals are adjusting their seasonal migratory routes. When the composition of species off our shores is evolving how can we be conservation champions for the ocean through our seafood sourcing? Amy MacKown, from the South Carolina Aquarium’s Good Catch Program will navigate us through these challenges and demystify what sustainability means when it comes to fishing and eating seafood.

Originally from the Eastern Shore of Maryland where fishing is a time-honored way of life, Amy came to South Carolina after five years of sustainable fisheries work in Rhode Island. She brings a wealth of knowledge gathered from working in Federal, State, and regional natural resource management agencies including NOAA, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. Amy has also worked in the non-profit realm as both an Executive Director and Community Organizer spearheading conservation initiatives with fishing communities nationally. In 2015 Amy was presented with the “Promoting Our Natural Resources Award” by the U.S. Department of Interior and has experience on Capitol Hill championing healthy ocean legislation.  [lightframe shortname=”coastaldiscoverymuseum” fallback=”simple” full_items=”yes” flow=”170397″ view_item=”149674″ view_availability=”352585536″]Register Here[/lightframe]

Overwintering Hummingbirds in the Lowcountry

Monday, March 2nd – 2 PM – $7 per person
Doreen Cubie

Doreen Cubie will discuss her research with Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, focusing on her banding study of wintering hummingbirds near Charleston, South Carolina. She will also discuss her research with Rubythroats from Manitoba to British Columbia, where she learned more about the northern and western limits of the breeding range of Rubythroats and investigated whether South Carolina’s wintering Ruby-throated Hummingbirds migrate to Canada for the summer.

Doreen Cubie is a master bird bander, one of only about 400 hummingbird banders in the US and Canada. She began studying wintering hummingbirds in the southeastern US in 2005. Her hummingbird research has been published in three peer-reviewed journals: Wilson Journal of Ornithology, Western Birds, and Journal of Field Ornithology. Doreen’s professional career was in publications, including a position as an editor with the National Wildlife Federation. During the last 20 years, she has worked as a freelance magazine writer, and her articles have been published in a number of national magazines, including National Wildlife, Audubon, Wildlife Conservation, Wilderness, and Natural History.  [lightframe shortname=”coastaldiscoverymuseum” fallback=”simple” full_items=”yes” flow=”170397″ view_item=”149674″ view_availability=”376365532″]Register here[/lightframe]

Right Whales-Our Coastal Visitors

Wednesday, March 4th – Prof. Michael Williamson

Professor Williamson will introduce Right Whales and the current status and research on this species.  The effects of climate change on this species will also be discussed. Associate Professor Michael Williamson has been active in education and research for over 40 years. He founded WhaleNet in 1993 to excite students about math, science, the environment, and technology (STEM). He is also Vice-president of the Mingan Island Cetacean Study, which has conducted the longest continuous research program on blue whales in the world, since 1979. Williamson, an Associate Professor of Science at Wheelock College in Boston, Massachusetts 1988-2008, is currently Scientist in Residence at St. Mary’s Anglican Girls School in Perth, Western Australia where he teaches and advises on marine science education and research.  He was also a pioneer in Massachusetts whale research as the founder and director of the Pelagic Systems Research & Massachusetts Whale Watch which began studying cetaceans in Massachusetts Bay in 1976.  [lightframe shortname=”coastaldiscoverymuseum” fallback=”simple” full_items=”yes” flow=”170397″ view_item=”149674″ view_availability=”376367227″]Register Here[/lightframe]

Bird Friendly Back Yards

Monday, March 9th – Sean Dennis

Have you ever wondered how to attract more birds to your yard? Join us for this   presentation by Sean Dennis, co-owner of Wild Birds Unlimited. Sean will provide an overview of native plants you can add to your landscaping to provide food and habitat for common Lowcountry songbird species.  [lightframe shortname=”coastaldiscoverymuseum” fallback=”simple” full_items=”yes” flow=”170397″ view_item=”149674″ view_availability=”376367670″]Register Here[/lightframe]

Mitchelville Preservation Project

Wednesday, March 11th – Ahmad Ward

The Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park (HMFP) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve, promote and honor Historic Mitchelville, the first self-governed town of formerly enslaved people in the United States. The brave men and women that built this community planted strong and enduring familial roots for generations of future African-Americans. Mitchelville’s significance in American history is profound. The courage, perseverance, and resourcefulness of the freedmen on Hilton Head Island, ushered in the dawn of freedom. Their experiences during an era of war and the Reconstruction Period, exposed a culture that had survived from its roots in Africa, demonstrating how deeply the ideas of self-dependence and freedom were embedded in the minds of the African Americans. Executive Director, Ahmad Ward will discuss the fascinating story of Mitchelville, highlight what his organization is currently doing to promote the history and give some insight into the future plans of the Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park. [lightframe shortname=”coastaldiscoverymuseum” fallback=”simple” full_items=”yes” flow=”170397″ view_item=”149674″ view_availability=”376367895″]Register Here[/lightframe]

Miracle of Migration

Monday, March 16th – Diana Churchill

Every spring, hundreds of thousands of migratory birds leave winter homes in Central and South America to fly north to breeding grounds in the United States and Canada. This program will introduce you to the why, how, and who of migration, preparing you to be on the look-out for some 200 species of birds that begin arriving in our area as early as February. [lightframe shortname=”coastaldiscoverymuseum” fallback=”simple” full_items=”yes” flow=”170397″ view_item=”149674″ view_availability=”376368315″]Register Here[/lightframe]

Microplastics and Pollution in Charleston Harbor

Wednesday, March 18th – Sarah Kell

Sarah Kell will discuss the scope of microplastic pollution in the Charleston Harbor watershed as well as share current research projects of the Weinstein laboratory and the outcomes of their science communication efforts.

Sarah Kell is a candidate for a M.S. degree in Marine Biology at the College of Charleston.  Her thesis research is focused on assessing the fate and effects of microplastics and tire wear particles in Charleston Harbor.   She obtained her B.S. in Marine Biology in 2006 at the University of West Florida.  Prior to returning to school, she worked at the U.S. EPA as a Research Biologist studying the effects of temperature, UV radiation, and sedimentation on corals.  Sarah later worked at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection as an Environmental Specialist in the Environmental Resources Program and the Office of Emergency Response.  During her time at FDEP, she served as the State Liaison for 3+ years during the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Response.  [lightframe shortname=”coastaldiscoverymuseum” fallback=”simple” full_items=”yes” flow=”170397″ view_item=”149674″ view_availability=”376368597″]Register Here[/lightframe]

Research and Conservation of our Estuarine Finfish Population

Monday, March 23rd – Erin Levesque – Waddell Mariculture Center

The Estuarine Finfish Section at the Marine Resources Division (SCDNR) is tasked with utilizing long-term fishery monitoring programs, genetic tools and culture of marine finfish in order to effectively and responsibly inform management of popular finfish species. If you are a recreational angler or if you are interested in our rich estuarine ecosystem, this program will explain how the biologists of the SCDNR sample fish populations in our coastal environment and design research questions with the goal of protecting and preserving our marine resources.  [lightframe shortname=”coastaldiscoverymuseum” fallback=”simple” full_items=”yes” flow=”170397″ view_item=”149674″ view_availability=”376368738″]Register Here[/lightframe]

How is the Water? Seeking Solutions in the Age of Climate Change

Wednesday, March 25th – Kevin Mills – South Carolina Aquarium

Learn what’s at stake in the Lowcountry as the planet warms and sea levels rise, and find out how the South Carolina Aquarium is helping communities develop the capacity to contend with the impacts of climate change. Kevin Mills is President and CEO of the South Carolina Aquarium, a private, nonprofit institution committed to saving species and connecting people with the natural world.  During his 14-year tenure, the Aquarium has expanded its education programming worldwide, launched the innovative Sea Turtle Care Center, and enhanced its position as the number one travel destination in Charleston.  In 2019, the Aquarium received the prestigious National Medal for Museums and Libraries. [lightframe shortname=”coastaldiscoverymuseum” fallback=”simple” full_items=”yes” flow=”170397″ view_item=”149674″ view_availability=”376368749″]Register Here[/lightframe]

A Conversation with a Civil War Soldier

Monday, March 30th – Steve Quick

On April 10 1865 a 27 year old corporal from Marlboro Co. SC stacked his arms at a former stagecoach stop named Appomattox Courthouse. He walked south with his brother “Ebby” to find his home and outbuildings in ashes, his farm in ruins. Stephen Quick had to rebuild his life from scratch. Today his ggg- grandson tells the story of the common farmer turned soldier, the hardships, the humor,  the heartbreaks and the horrors that are war. Combining first and third person storytelling this is a humanizing account designed and refined to connect “our war” to anyone regardless of their level of interest. [lightframe shortname=”coastaldiscoverymuseum” fallback=”simple” full_items=”yes” flow=”170397″ view_item=”149674″ view_availability=”394702187″]Register Here[/lightframe]

Southeastern Coastal Birds

Wednesday, April 1st – Paul Weatherhead

Birds have been an indicator species for our entire world history and all over the globe.  Migratory birds travel 20,000 miles from the tip of Argentina in the south to the Arctic Circle in the north.  Come see pictures of some of these fascinating birds that live and pass through Hilton Head Island.  Learn about the challenges and successes in preserving our birdlife.  Discover where you can see birdlife on-line and in real life in the low country.

For over 25 years Paul Weatherhead has taught college classes at the University of Virginia and the University of South Carolina-Beaufort.  He is also a docent at the Coastal Discovery Museum.  When Paul moved to Hilton Head Island 14 years ago he was so impressed with the area’s birdlife he took up photography and joined the HHI Audubon Society.  [lightframe shortname=”coastaldiscoverymuseum” fallback=”simple” full_items=”yes” flow=”170397″ view_item=”149674″ view_availability=”394703102″]Register Here[/lightframe]

The Ecology and Natural History of South Carolina Salt Marshes

Monday, April 6th – Christopher Kehrer

Salt Marshes play a critical role in the health of our oceans and are nursing grounds for 75% of our commercial fish. During this lecture, learn why marshes are so productive, how they change over time, how resilient and fragile they can be and why we must do all that we can to protect them. Christopher Kehrer is the Naturalist and education coordinator at the Port Royal Sound Foundation. Chris was raised in the lowcountry and earned his bachelor’s in biology at USCB which focused in coastal ecology. While attending USCB Chris conducted research on sound producing fish that thrive in murky estuarine waters.  [lightframe shortname=”coastaldiscoverymuseum” fallback=”simple” full_items=”yes” flow=”170397″ view_item=”149674″ view_availability=”394703558″]Register Here[/lightframe]

Cypress – The Soul of the Swamp

Wednesday, April 8th – Robert Rommel

Before European settlement, the majority of the Lowcountry was composed of wetlands dominated by Bald and Pond Cypress.  Some remnants of these magnificent swamps still remain and flourish.  Robert will introduce the history of these ecosystems, the biology of this grand tree, and the community of wildlife which thrives in these wetlands.  Join us to learn about the cypress ecosystem and see Robert’s award-winning photography from these primordial swamps.

Robert Rommel received degrees in biology and ecology from Princeton University and the University of Michigan.  Robert now works as a wildlife photographer based out of the Lowcountry and traveling across North America. [lightframe shortname=”coastaldiscoverymuseum” fallback=”simple” full_items=”yes” flow=”170397″ view_item=”149674″ view_availability=”394703705″]Register Here[/lightframe]

Common Pesticides – What are we using in the garden?

Monday, April 13th – Debbi Albanese

Debbi Albanese is a SC Master Naturalist and recent graduate of Georgia Southern University with an M.S. in Biology. The research for her thesis showed unexpected negative effects of herbicides on butterflies and earthworms. In this lecture, she will review some commonly used pesticides, how pesticides are approved by the EPA for use by homeowners and introduce the idea of integrated pest management.

Southern Forest and Climate Change

Wednesday, April 15th – Dana Smith

[lightframe shortname=”coastaldiscoverymuseum” fallback=”simple” full_items=”yes” flow=”170397″ view_item=”149674″ view_availability=”394704435″]Register Here[/lightframe]


Monday, April 20th – Colin Brooker

[lightframe shortname=”coastaldiscoverymuseum” fallback=”simple” full_items=”yes” flow=”170397″ view_item=”149674″ view_availability=”394704437″]Register Here[/lightframe]

Lowcountry Snakes

Wednesday, April 22nd – 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.  [lightframe shortname=”coastaldiscoverymuseum” fallback=”simple” full_items=”yes” flow=”170397″ view_item=”149674″ view_availability=”394704441″]Register Here[/lightframe]

The Ripple Effects of Pesticides

Monday, April 27th – Juliana Smith

During this lecture, learn what’s at stake for native wildlife when we use common pesticides. We’ll discuss different types of pesticides and how they extend beyond their intended victims. Plus, we’ll learn how to more sustainably address pest problems at home and in our communities.

Juliana Smith is the South Coast project manager for the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League where she works to advocate for the conservation of our local habitats and the flora and fauna that call them home. For many years, she has been a professional naturalist and environmental educator in the Lowcountry and holds a MEd in science and math from the College of Charleston. Her career started on Kiawah Island, where she developed a grant-funded program that connected local high school students to science as it occurs in nature. During her free-time, she continues to lead natural history tours in the area and teaches courses for groups like the Lowcountry Master Naturalist program.  [lightframe shortname=”coastaldiscoverymuseum” fallback=”simple” full_items=”yes” flow=”170397″ view_item=”149674″ view_availability=”394704447″]Register Here[/lightframe]

Carolina Wetlands: Climate Change and Resliency

Wednesday, April 29th- Rick Savage

Join us in welcoming Rick Savage from the Carolina Wetlands Association to learn more about various types of wetlands in the Carolinas, efforts to protect them, and how they are impacted by climate change. The Carolina Wetlands Association, based in North Carolina, works with communities to restore wetlands, create community resilience and environmental equity, to mitigate climate change effects. Find out more about their work and ways you can help protect at-risk wetlands in our area.  [lightframe shortname=”coastaldiscoverymuseum” fallback=”simple” full_items=”yes” flow=”170397″ view_item=”149674″ view_availability=”419094421″]Register Here[/lightframe]