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 – 2020:

The Museum will be rescheduling on-site or digital Discovery Lectures soon. Please check back with us about our new schedule of programs that will resume in the fall.

Topics will include the ones below – and many other informative programs related to the Lowcountry’s unique history and environment.

Miracle of Migration

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.

Microplastics and Pollution in Charleston Harbor

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.

Research and Conservation of our Estuarine Finfish Population

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.

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

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.

A Conversation with a Civil War Soldier

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.

Southeastern Coastal Birds

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.

The Ecology and Natural History of South Carolina Salt Marshes

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.

Cypress – The Soul of the Swamp

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.

Common Pesticides – What are we using in the garden?

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

Dana Smith

Lowcountry Snakes

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.

The Ripple Effects of Pesticides

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.

Carolina Wetlands: Climate Change and Resliency

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.