Discovery Lecture Series
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 Mondays and Wednesdays) from October–May the Discovery Lecture Series is offered.
$7 per person (for the majority of programs) – In 2020-21, an online option will be available for $5 per registration. Please check our event calendar to register.
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 next History Forum program will be in January 2021.
Discovery Lectures – 2020-21:
The Museum will be relaunching on-site Discovery Lectures in October. A limited number of “in person” registrations will be allowed. Online registration is also available. Once registered, a link to the streaming program will be emailed to participants.
Please check back soon for updates on the 2021 schedule.
Life Cycles Associated with the Salt Marsh
Wednesday, February 10th – 2 PM (VIRTUAL PRESENTATION ONLY)
This lecture will describe our salt-marsh habitat and it’s physical characteristics as well as the relationship to some of our marine wildlife. Why is the Lowcountry salt Marsh of vital importance to the coastal waters and the life living in it. How are our local fisheries related to the Salt Marsh? Classified as the one of the most productive environments on earth, the Salt Marsh has many factors that made it of crucial importance for a large variety of life in our local waters.
Mr. Al Stokes is a retired biologist with over 35 years of experience working for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. Al’s work covered a diverse number of aquatic species, many with commercial importance. For several decades Al Stokes managed the Waddell Mariculture Center in Bluffton which operated several aquaculture programs to re-stock the wild populating of fish in the low country as well as managed several local fisheries. Register Here
Daily Life and Extraordinary Ceremony at the Sea Pines Shell Ring
Wednesday, February 17th – 2 PM (VIRTUAL PRESENTATION ONLY)
Matt Sanger – Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian
Native Americans built the Sea Pines Shell Ring out of tens of thousands of oyster and clam shells roughly 4000 years ago. Archaeologists debate why Native Americans built this, and other large circular rings of shell, with some seeing them as village sites, ceremonial gathering places, or even circular dams made to hold fresh water. We discuss our recent work at the Sea Pines Shell Ring which shows Native Americans changed their use of the site over time from a place of habitation to a place to conduct rituals and cremate their dead.
Matthew C. Sanger is the Curator of North American Archaeology at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American Indian (NMAI). Before joining NMAI, Matt was an Assistant Professor at Binghamton University and Researchers with the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Matt’s work has been funded by the National Science Foundation and National Geographic as he has conducted archaeological work on Hilton Head Island since 2015 and elsewhere in coastal South Carolina and Georgia since 2001. Register Here
Biogeography of South Carolina
Monday, February 22nd – 2 PM (VIRTUAL PRESENTATION ONLY)
Dr. Chris Marsh will give a bird’s eye view of the biogeographical regions of the Carolinas, discussing their geological origins and how they provide unique habitats that add to the region’s diversity of plants and animals.
Dr. Marsh has over 40 years of experience working in habitats throughout North and South Carolina. For the past 22 years he has served as Executive Director of both the Spring Island Trust and the LowCountry Institute, prior to moving to the Lowcountry, Dr. Marsh was a biology professor at Coastal Carolina University where he taught ornithology, ecology, and animal behavior.Register Here
Wednesday, February 24th – 2 PM (VIRTUAL PRESENTATION ONLY)
Camellias are fascinating plants, with a rich history and although not native to the American continent, they have been part of the south since the 1700s. These plants are a member of the tea plant family and has been cultivated for their beauty in many Lowcountry gardens. The Coastal Discovery Museum has a camellia garden with over 130 varieties that cover the whole spectrum of plant varieties and flower types present on camellias. The garden is part of the American Camellia Trail through the American Camellia Society. This presentation by Wendy Dickes, the garden manager, will talk about the history, diversity and significance of camellias, as well as the necessary knowledge to grow and care for camellias in the Lowcountry. Register Here
Exploring the Lowcoutnry
Monday, March 1st 2 PM
Whether you call the Low Country home or you’re here for a visit, venturing out to explore the area is a must! From the well-known wild-life refuges to more “off-the beaten” path destinations, there are an abundance of places to experience the area.
Join local naturalist and creator of Moore to Life, Jill Moore, for a presentation on local low country excursions and what you may encounter depending on the season.
Jill Moore, owner and creator of Moore 2 Life, has a background in education as well as being a certified Naturalist. Her love of the outdoors started young while spending summers of her youth in Montana where her parents are from. In search of a place full of outdoor adventure to raise her 3 boys, Jill’s family ended up in the Low Country of South Carolina. Sharing what she has learned and experienced in this area “like no other place on earth” is what she hopes to share with others through the opportunities she provides with Moore to Life. Register Here
Arctic Nesting Migratory Shorebirds in SC
Wednesday, March 3rd – 2 PM (VIRTUAL PRESENTATION ONLY)
Felicia Sanders – SCDNR
Many shorebirds undertake fantastic migrations each year from nesting grounds in the Arctic to wintering sites as far south as the southern tip of South America. This presentation will highlight shorebird natural history from nesting sites on the tundra, to wintering sites on beaches in South Carolina and the incredible flights that shorebirds make each year to reach these destinations. One species of interest, the Red Knot, stops on our coast during spring migration to feed on coquina clams and horseshoe crab eggs. Location information from SCDNR tracking projects suggests that two-thirds of the Red Knots in South Carolina fly directly to Arctic habitat after leaving South Carolina beaches. This information identifies South Carolina beaches as very important for Red Knot and other shorebird species’ survival.
Felicia Sanders joined South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) in 2001 and leads SC’s Shorebird Program. Project goals include conservation of important shorebird habitat for nesting and migration. She has coauthored numerous scientific publications and has traveled to the Arctic 5 times to participate in shorebird research projects. Felicia has a BS in Biology from Duke University and MS in Biology from Clemson University. Register Here
Wild and Wonderful – Our Dolphin Neighbors
Monday, March 8th – 2 PM (VIRTUAL PRESENTATION ONLY)
This entertaining and educational program focuses on the wild estuarine Bottlenose dolphins of Georgia and lower South Carolina coasts… the history, anatomy, biology, behaviors. The threats to the dolphin and our shared environment will also be covered. Amazing video and audio of the residential dolphins will also be included. The program will also have an insight to the mission of The Dolphin Project, an all-volunteer, non-profit research, education and conservation organization founded in 1989 to protect wild dolphins and their environment. Volunteer crews conduct monthly Photo ID dolphin research studies on estuarine waters and offer educational programs to schools and community groups.
Peach Hubbard hails from Chicago and began boating on Lake Michigan at 5 months of age with her parents. She earned a degree in Graphic Design and started her own business in Chicago. She raised her girls in Roswell Georgia but missed being closer to water. After meeting a Savannian, she moved to the coast and fell in love with the Low Country. Peach became a UGA Master Coastal Naturalist and focused her energies on learning more about the estuarine Bottlenose dolphins. Peach serves as President of The Dolphin Project, directing the research surveys and educating outreach programs. She loves giving programs to children about the treasures of the Georgia coast, especially the dolphins. Peach designed the displays in the Henry Ford-Richmond Hill History Museum and is active in ‘Arts On The Coast’. She loves her family and friends, painting, photography, sculpting, exploring the USA, fishing and her boat “Just Peachy”! Register Here
Wednesday, March 10th – 2 PM (VIRTUAL PRESENTATION ONLY)
Lydia Moore – Palmetto Bluff Conservancy
Bats are often portrayed negatively, fostering fear and misunderstanding. Lydia Moore, research and education coordinator for the Palmetto Bluff Conservancy, will discuss the beneficial roles of bats in the Lowcountry. Join us and learn why bats are essential components of ecosystems, why it is crucial that we study them, and about ongoing research at the Bluff.
Lydia Moore became enthralled with conservation and ecology as a child growing up next to a saltwater marsh in Charleston. She pursued this passion at Oberlin College where she double majored in biology and environmental studies. After spending several years in New Mexico, she returned to school and earned her master’s degree at Auburn University studying bats in the coastal plain of South Carolina. Lydia is a community ecologist and has conducted research in Ohio, New Mexico, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. Register Here
Monday, March 15th – 2 PM – (VIRTUAL PRESENTATION ONLY)
Come and learn from expert biologist Erin Levesque about the unique Diamond Back Terrapin, the all-time resident turtle of the Lowcountry Salt Marsh. This presentation will focus on the biology of these unique turtles as well as past and present challenges facing diamondback terrapin populations. A description of terrapin culture will illustrate our efforts to responsibly utilize lab-raised animals to supplement depleted populations while learning more about the biology of wild terrapins.
Erin Levesque is the manager of the Waddell Mariculture Center and a Biologist with the Estuarine Finfish Section, SC Department of Natural Resources. She assists in culture of recreationally important finfish, sampling wild populations of finfish and educating the public about various programs within the Marine Resources Division. Erin has a M.S. in Marine Biology from the College of Charleston, a B.S. in Marine Science from Eckerd College and has been employed by SCDNR since 2000. Register Here
Connections in Nature: Pollinators and their Plant Partners
Wednesday, March 17th – 2 PM –
Sally Krebs – Town of Hilton Head Island
About 250 – 125 million years ago, flowering plants first appeared on the earth and started diversifying, accompanied by an explosion of diversity among flying insects; flowering plants began devising ways of enlisting their help in reproduction, including elaborate markings visible only to insects and sweet rewards to those who answered the plants’ call. In turn, insects devised clever ways of using plants for their reproduction, going as far as using plant toxins to protect their young and themselves from predators. Come explore this delicate and complex connection between pollinators and their plant partners. You’ll leave with a brand new appreciation for both!
Sally Krebs received her BA and MS degrees in Zoology from Rutgers University and is a published biologist with a special interest in the ecology of reptiles and amphibians. From 1986-2011, she worked for the Planning Department, Town of Hilton Head Island, as Natural Resources Administrator, a job that included reviewing all development plans for environmental impacts and working with developers to improve natural resources protection on their sites, developing mitigation plans for sites damaged by development, and educating the general public on the importance of environmental protection. She also helped author comprehensive tree protection and wetland protection ordinances based on quantitative evaluation of environmental values and functions. Her current position with the Town is Sustainable Practices Coordinator, which includes educating the public on ways to live greener, more sustainable lives and the benefits of doing so. She is an arborist certified by the International Society of Arboriculture, serves on NOAA’s Marine Mammal Stranding Network and SCDNR’s Sea Turtle Stranding Network, and has been an adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina Beaufort since 1988, where she teaches courses in Applied Environmental Science, Herpetology and Plant Biology. Register Here
The Nautical Origins of Everyday Phrases
Monday, March 22nd – 2 PM
Many common phrases have their origins in nautical history and tradition. Colorful expression such as “fly by night”, chew the fat”, “as the crow flies”, “spic and span”, “let the cat out of the bag”, and “the whole nine yards” provide an interesting historical insight into seafaring life.
Captain Tom Anderson spent his childhood in a coastal city adjacent to a large seaport, where he became fascinated with the maritime environment at an early age. As a small boy, he devoted many hours to observing ships come and go, wondering about their destination, cargo, and adventures. Those boyhood reveries stimulated his imagination and solidified his fascination with the maritime world. After completing his education, he joined the U. S. Navy as a medical officer, and practiced Emergency Medicine, Aerospace Medicine, and Undersea Medicine for most of his adult life.
Most of his professional career required him to live and work on, around, or under the sea. His naval assignments took him to many exotic destinations; there he had the opportunity to closely observe and study unique features of the maritime world. Those experiences were crucial in shaping his understanding of the important contributions the oceans and seas have made to the origin and evolution of our modern civilization.
Now that he has retired from the practice of medicine, Tom now spends his time researching, writing, and speaking about maritime topics. His current interests include maritime geopolitics, contemporary maritime affairs, and the future of the international maritime community, as well as the ideas and events that are changing and our world. Register Here
Migratory Ducks at Savannah Wildlife Refuge
Wednesday, March 24th – 2 PM (VIRTUAL PRESENTATION ONLY)
Savannah National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is a sanctuary for approximately 22 species of migratory waterfowl that winter in coastal South Carolina. Three-thousand acres of former plantation rice fields are now actively managed by a series of water control structures, effectively serving as impoundments to provide feeding areas and sanctuary for waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds, and other wildlife. The rich habitat the refuge provides is a result of careful management of this freshwater impoundment system. Prescribed fire and mechanical and chemical treatments are used to manipulate plant successional stages and regulate undesirable and noxious plants. However, the primary means of management of this system is dependable water level control utilizing rice field trunk and stop-log water control structures, as well as the 9-mile freshwater diversion canal.
Refuge Manager Russ Webb was raised in Port Wentworth, Georgia, where he spent as much time on the Savannah River and the Savannah NWR as he did in school. He began his career on the refuge at just fifteen years old, as a Youth Conservation Corps enrollee. After two summers of the hardest field work he had ever experienced, he decided that wildlife management would be his chosen career path. Russ’s formal education began at Abraham Baldwin College, where he earned an Associate in Wildlife Technology in 1989. In that same year, he was offered a position as an Equipment Operator at Savannah NWR. Russ then moved up to the position on Wildlife Technician in 1996, at which time he returned to school to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Biology at Armstrong Atlantic State University. About a year after earning his biology degree, Russ was promoted to the position of Field Biologist. Currently, Russ is serving as the Refuge Manager for Savannah, Pinckney Island, Tybee, and Wassaw NWRs and has thoroughly enjoyed his 29 years managing coastal resources. Register Here
Next Steps for Mitchelville
Monday, March 29th – 2 PM
Ahmad Ward – Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park
In February 2020, Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park had just completed its Master Plan and prepared for the next steps in its development, until Covid-19 shut the world down. This lecture will discuss how the organization was forced to change its direction and pivot to digital, while crafting the strategy going forward. In addition, Executive Director, Ahmad Ward will highlight the next steps for the organization and the future plans for the Park site.
Ahmad Ward is the Executive Director for the Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park located on Hilton Head Island, SC. The mission of the Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park is to preserve, promote and honor Historic Mitchelville, the first self-governed town of formerly enslaved people in the United States. Ward is responsible for implementing the Mitchelville master plan, that will recreate this historic town as an interpretative site. The Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park will convey this important story of freedom and citizenship to visitors from around the country.
Prior to this position, Ward spent fifteen years leading the Education Department at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham Alabama. It is there where he honed his expertise in telling the story of civil and human rights in America, with a focus on historic analysis and application to current social justice issues. With Masters-level training and years of experience in exhibition design, he brings a strong understanding of storytelling and the importance of technology in interpretation. He has been responsible for creating programming partnerships with local schools, universities and organizations; teacher and student resources; written articles, blogs and essays for local, national and international platforms as well as the development of public programming for community-at-large in the areas of civil and human rights movements, multiculturalism and contemporary human rights issues.
Ward is a native of Elizabeth City, North Carolina. He received a BA in Art from Elizabeth City State University and a MA in Museum Studies from Hampton University. He is a Board member of the Association of African American Museums, a member of Rotary of Hilton Head Island Club and the Southeastern Museums Conference Jekyll Island Management Institute (JIMI) Selection Board. He is a former member of the Smithsonian Affiliates Advisory Board. His hobbies include drawing, watching sports, cooking, sleep (when possible) and fantasy football. He and his wife, Dafina have two brilliant daughters, Masani Ashiya and Aminah Elon. Register Here
What is Happening to our Bees?
Wednesday, 31st – 2 PM
This presentation will focus on the two most commonly asked questions by the non-beekeeper 1.) What is happening to the bees? & 2,) What can I do to help the bees? We will attempt answer these questions through the lens of science with a particular focus on Bee Biology and the Natural History of the Honey Bee, including its introduction into North America right here in Beaufort County, South Carolina at the Spanish settlement of Santa Elena in 1564.
Biography: David Arnal is a local bee keeper with more than 50 colonies under his care in the Lowcountry. David has been growing bees for over 27 years, and his honey is for sale at several Farmers Markets and stores through around the Lowcountry including the Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn, where David keeps eight active colonies. David Arnal is the President of the Beaufort-Jasper Beekeepers Association in South Carolina. And teaches a class on advanced beekeeping at the Savannah Bee School. Register Here