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)
Reservations required: call 843 689 6767 ext. 223 or register online.

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:

The Coastal Discovery Museum’s Discovery Lecture Series offers weekly from October through April. Please check the online calendar (or follow the links below) to register.

Lowcountry Dolphins

Wednesday, February 27th – 3 PM
Wayne McFee – NOAA – Coastal Marine Mammal Assessments Program

Bottlenose dolphins are arguably South Carolina’s most charismatic, easily accessible marine animal providing a huge impact on coastal economies. Yet their existence in the near future could be threatened by climate change, increased coastal human development, increased noise, and other factors. Mr. McFee will present basic information on South Carolina’s marine mammal and the challenges they face now and in the future.
McFee has been at NOAA in South Carolina for 26 years as the Coastal Marine Mammal Assessments Programs lead, with prior experience as a trainer of pinnipeds and dolphins at the New England Aquarium and as a Water Quality Manager at SC DHEC. Register Here.

Blooms of the Lowcountry

Thursday, February 28th – 3 PM
Carol Clemens – CDM Docent, Photographer, and retired educator

Enjoy an overview of some of the blooming trees, shrubs, vines and grasses that are common in the Lowcountry.  The presentation includes both native and non-native blooms.  Come learn about Beauty Berry, Jessamine, Wisteria, Resurrection Fern, palmettos, and many others.

Carol Clemens is a retired High School Spanish teacher who moved to the Lowcountry after retiring in 2005. She has been involved in birding and photographing nature as a hobby since retiring.

Among her volunteer activities, Carol is a Lowcountry Master Naturalist, active in Audubon, a docent for the Coastal Discovery Museum, an interpreter at Volunteers in Medicine, teaches genealogy programs at the Heritage Library, and is a tutor at the Boys and Girls Club. She has presented numerous nature and genealogy programs for groups in the area. Carol holds advanced degrees from the University of Notre Dame. Visit her nature website on Shutterfly.  Register Here.

Lowcountry Alligators

Wednesday, March 6th – 3 PM
Tom Murphy – SCDNR, retired biologist

Tom Murphy, a retired biologist from the South Carolina Department of Natural resources, was in charge of endangered species during his long career.  He will share his knowledge of the natural history of alligators in the Lowcountry. From nearly extinct in the state to abundant, this presentation will cover the successes and difficulties in recovering and maintaining alligator populations in South Carolina. Learn why one of our most spectacular animals became an endangered species, about the efforts that helped bring their population back, and what should we do to ensure their future. Register Here.

Lowcountry Snakes

Wednesday, March 7th – 3 PM
Tony Mills – LowCountry Institute

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.

Henry Hartstene – One of the most interesting antebellum plantation owners in Beaufort County

Wednesday, March 13th – 3 PM
Mary Socci – Palmetto Bluff Conservancy   

One of the most interesting antebellum plantation owners in Beaufort County was Henry Hartstene.   His Greenleaf Plantation was located along the May River and today is bisected by the drive into the Village of Palmetto Bluff. Join Palmetto Bluff’s archaeologist, Dr. Mary Socci, for a talk on Hartstene, his plantation, and a surprising connection to the White House.

Dr. Socci developed an interest in archaeology while she was an undergraduate at Princeton University.  She went on to Yale University where she received her master’s degree and her doctorate.  Dr. Socci has worked on archaeological sites in Belize, Israel, and New York, as well as in South Carolina, and she has been Palmetto Bluff’s archaeologist since 2004. Register Here.

Lowcountry Vultures

Thursday, March 14th – 1 PM
Carlos Chacon – Coastal Discovery Museum

Take the opportunity to learn about vultures and witness vultures in action. An informational lecture on the natural history of vultures will be followed by a walk to a nearby site where a carcass has been set up to attract vultures. Spotting scopes will be available for participants to see up close vultures at work. Capable of cleaning a full grown deer carcass in a few hours, vultures are of great value to nature. Their unique features and life style are designed to feed on rotten meat.  Black Vultures and Turkey Vultures are the two species that inhabit the Lowcountry and can be seen on a daily basis. From their unique feeding habits to their quite peculiar defense mechanism, vultures are definitely an incredible creature, although perhaps the no the cutest by human standards, they are certainly a specialized animal.

Carlos Chacon is the Manager of Natural History at the Coastal Discovery Museum. As the naturalist at the Coastal Discovery Museum Carlos conducts nature programs of numerous kinds and manages the Karen Wertheimer Butterfly Enclosure. Register Here.

Turning the Tide  – Presentation and Booksigning

Wednesday, March 20th – 1 PM – $35 person. –Includes book and signing by the author. $10 for only lecture participants
Sally Murphy

Turning the Tide chronicles the creation of South Carolina’s sea turtle program, the evolution of the International Sea Turtle Society and the ACE Basin, and documents the decades-long battle for use of turtle excluder devices (TEDs) to protect sea turtles. Filled with stories, both funny and sad, Turning the Tide describes one woman’s triumphs, both personal and professional, against tough odds.

Sally Murphy received a degree in Biology from Armstrong State College in Savannah, Georgia, and a MS in Biology from the University of South Carolina and was hired by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources in 1973 as their first Environmental Education Specialist. She worked for 30 years as a wildlife biologist in the SCDNR. Register Here.

The Hidden Beauty of Sand

Wednesday, March 27th – 3 PM
Captain 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. Register Here.

Bald Eagles in the Lowcountry

Wednesday, April 3rd – 3 PM
Tom Murphy – SCDNR, retired biologist

Tom Murphy, retired biologist from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources was the principal investigator for the state’s Bald Eagle Program, will share the story of the Bald Eagles in the Lowcountry. From near extinction to recovery, this presentation will trace the success and the challenges facing the Bald Eagle. Many reasons contributed to the decline of the national bird, which disappeared from the Lowcountry landscape for many years.  These spectacular predators were removed from the endangered species list in 2007, and are now a common sight locally. Learn why our national bird nearly went extinct, about the efforts to bring them back, and what should we do to secure the future of this magnificent bird.


History Forum of the Lowcountry:

Since 2013, the History Forum of the Lowcountry has invited guest presenters to discuss various aspects of Lowcountry history, culture, and experiences. Speakers have included professors, authors, community leaders, archivists, genealogists, museum professionals, and other experts in the field. Click here to see a list of past speakers and programs.

$10 nonmembers, $5 basic members, n/c for supporting and above membership level – Please call 843-689-6767, ext. 224 to register. Online reservations are not available for these programs.

SC Women in the Revolutionary War – 2/21 – SOLD OUT


Making Sporting Plantations: Rich Yankees and the Transformation of the Rural Lowcountry, 1900-1940

Tuesday, March 12th – 3 PM – Daniel Vivian – Univ. of Kentucky

During the first four decades of the twentieth century, wealthy sportsmen and sportswomen from northern cities created more than 70 large sporting estates in the lowcountry. Although this “Second Yankee Invasion” is familiar to many lowcountry residents, the making of these estates has received limited study. In this presentation, Daniel Vivian surveys their origins, the ideas that shaped their form and use, and their influence on popular views of the lowcountry.

Daniel Vivian is a historian of the American South. He earned his PhD at the Johns Hopkins University and is currently chair of the Department of Historic Preservation at the University of Kentucky. His research concentrates on historical memory of slavery during the era of Jim Crow. He is the author of A New Plantation World: Sporting Estates in the Carolina Lowcountry, 1900-1940 (Cambridge University Press, 2018), co-editor of and a contributor to Leisure, Plantations, and the Making of the New South: The Sporting Plantations of the South Carolina Lowcountry and Red Hills Region, 1900-1940 (Lexington Books, 2015), and essays in Winterthur Portfolio, Ohio Valley History, Historic Preservation Forum, and the South Carolina Historical Magazine. He lives in Lexington, Kentucky.

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