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.

Register Here


Your Lowcountry Home

Monday, November 4th – Al Segars – Retired Veterinarian, SCDNR

Join Dr. Al Segars (SCDNR retired) for a virtual trip through the Lowcountry highlighting the special places and wildlife who share our special home. Emphasis will be on properties that display the natural wonders of the Lowcountry that are public accessible. Dr Al Segars is a retired veterinarian with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources with a long career studying the endangered and threatened species in our coast. Register Here.

A Community-based Oyster Shell Recycling and Bed Restoration Project

Wednesday, November 6th – Jean Fruh, Director of The Outside Foundation

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. Come learn how you can get involved in this important conservation project! Register Here

If These Walls Could Talk

Wednesday, November 13th – Kim Cavanaugh, Ph.D – Professor of Anthropology, University of SC – Beaufort & Audrey Dawson, Ph. D.

The Barnwell Archaeological Research Project is a multidisciplinary endeavor at the Barnwell tabby ruins located on the north end of Hilton Head Island. Archaeology, archival research, and geological dating analysis are being employed to answer questions from the local community concerning when the tabby structure was created, its uses through time, and the role of African and African-American enslaved laborers at this structure. This presentation will highlight information gleaned from the Phase I archaeological excavations coupled with preliminary archival research, both of which suggest the tabby ruins are older than originally thought, possibly dating to the island’s colonial period occupations.

Kimberly Cavanagh is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of South Carolina Beaufort. A Fulbright Scholar, she holds a PhD in Cultural Anthropology, as well as a Graduate Certificate in Visual Anthropology (2007) from the University of South Carolina. Her research centers on globalization, tourism development, and the Middle East.

Register Here

Prehistoric South Carolina

Monday, November 18th – Bruce Lampright, Naturalist at Bray’s Island

From tiny Trilobites to Giant Ground Sloths, the fossil history of the Palmetto State is a fascinating story.  Where else can you find a 65 million year-old oyster and minutes later stumble upon the massive 6 inch tooth of a Megatooth Shark?  Visions of Volkswagon-sized Armadillos, huge Mastodons, and pouncing Saber-toothed Cats boggle the mind.  And yes, South Carolina even had some dinosaurs!  Join professional naturalist and amateur paleontologist Bruce Lampright for a Lowcountry step back in time as he tells of the rich pre-history of our state.Register Here

Bats of the World and the Lowcountry

Wednesday, November 20th – Lydia Moore

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

Impact of Pesticides on Insects

Monday, November 25th – 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.

Register Here

The Many Benefits of Sharks

Monday, December 2nd – Kim Ritchie

People tend to think of sharks as dangerous, indiscriminate predators. Dr. Ritchie aims to make you think differently about sharks and their benefits to humans, our ecosystems and our planet. She will also discuss some of our local sharks and their antibiotic-producing microbial partners.

Kim Ritchie received a PhD at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill before postdoctoral studies at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego.  Dr. Ritchie was Senior Scientist and Manager of the Coral Reef Ecology and Microbiology Program at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida, for 14 years before moving to South Carolina. She is now Professor at the University of South Carolina Beaufort, studying coral reefs and sharks and their beneficial microbes. Dr. Ritchie also explores the use of shark beneficial bacteria as a novel source of antibiotics for humans.Register Here

Lowcountry Ospreys

Wednesday, December 4th – Kristen Mattson, LowCountry Institute

The Status of Osprey in the Lowcountry. During this lecture, learn why ospreys are important sentinels of environmental health and better understand their life history including nesting, migration, and feeding. Summary data from 10 years of local osprey breeding observations will be presented as well.

Kristen Marshall Mattson is an environmental educator for the LowCountry Institute and Spring Island Trust. She is a co-instructor of the Master Naturalist program and host of “Night Skies Over Beaufort County”. She has a background teaching biology in higher education and holds a master’s degree in ecology from the University of Florida.Register Here

Pat Conroy: Our Lifelong Friendship

Monday, December 9th – Bernie Schein

Pat Conroy, the bestselling author of The Prince of Tides and The Great Santini among many other books, was beloved by millions of readers. Bernie Schein was his best friend from the time they met in a high-school pickup basketball game in Beaufort, South Carolina, until Conroy’s death in 2016. Both were popular athletes but also outsiders as a Jew and a Catholic military brat in the small-town Bible-Belt South, and they bonded.

Wise ass and smart aleck, loudmouths both, they shared an ebullient sense of humor and romanticism, were mesmerized by the highbrow and reveled in the low and would sacrifice entire evenings and afternoons to endless conversation. As young teachers in the Beaufort area and later in Atlanta, they were activists in the civil rights struggle and against institutional racism and bigotry. Bernie knew intimately the private family story of the Conroys and his friend’s difficult relationship with his Marine Corps colonel father that Pat would draw on repeatedly in his fiction.

A love letter and homage, and a way to share the Pat he knew, this book collects Bernie’s cherished memories about the gregarious, welcoming, larger-than-life man who remained his best friend, even during the years they didn’t speak. It offers a trove of insights and anecdotes that will be treasured by Pat Conroy’s many devoted fans.Register Here

Overwintering Hummingbirds in the Lowcountry

Wednesday, December 11th – Doreen Cubie

Doreen Cubie will talk about 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. Register Here

Migratory Ducks

Monday, December 16th – Russ Webb

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

Whale Biology

Wednesday, December 18th – Michael Williamson

Professor Williamson will discuss different types of whales that inhabit the North Atlantic, their biology, and basic research techniques used to learn more about their natural history.  Some hands-on specimens will be used.

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.Register Here

Lowcountry Dragonflies

Monday, January 6th – 2PM $7 per person
Presented by Vicky McMillan – Biologist, author of “Natural Lowcountry” in the Island Packet

This presentation addresses the dragonflies inhabiting Hilton’s Head’s lagoons. Find out how these fascinating insects feed, find mates, defend territories, and reproduce.   There will be a handout on some of the most common Hilton Head Island species.  If possible, live dragonfly larvae will be shown. After the program participants are invited to join Vicky on an exploration of the dragonfly pond at the museum’s grounds. Biologist Vicky McMillan was on the faculty of Colgate University, in Hamilton, NY, for 30 years, where she taught biology and scientific writing and conducted research on dragonfly behavior.  McMillan moved to Hilton Head Island in 2007, and continues to study and write about dragonflies, which have been a strong interest of hers since childhood. She also writes the “Natural Lowcountry” column for The Island Packet newspaper.Register Here

Secret Lives of Trees, Part II

Wednesday, January 8th – 2 PM – $7 per person
Sally Krebs – Town of Hilton Head Island

The more you learn about trees, the more amazing they become! In the second part of this series, we will look at the superpowers of trees both in our own backyards and other parts of North America. We will discuss topics such as trees that practice chemical warfare, the future of a once common tree on Hilton Head Island, trees that contribute to human health, and more!

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, 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 Environmental Biology, Herpetology and Plant Biology.  Register Here

Lowcountry Terrapins

Monday, January 13th – 3 PM – $7 per person
Erin Levesque – Marine Resources Division Biologist – SCDNR

Found in the marshes all around us in the Lowcountry, these unique turtles face continuous challenges. This presentation will explore the various threats that diamondback terrapin populations have faced in the past as well as the present. 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 has worked as a Marine Resources Division Biologist with SCDNR since 2000. Her experiences have focused on sampling finfish and stock enhancements. Erin has an M.S. in Marine Biology from the College of Charleston where her diamondback terrapin research began.  Register Here

Ten Very Beautiful Plants That You Should Really Not Share With a Friend

Wednesday, January 15th – 2 PM – $7 per person
David Desjardins

Join us to learn about some beautiful plants that you really should not be sharing or growing in your garden. Dave DesJardins will share reflections on the nature of plants, why some of them can be real pests, and the lessons learned from helping friends, family, and neighbors. The Program will address native and non-native plants, effects of global warming, tomorrow’s garden — CRISPER, and plant defenses/evolution.

Dave DesJardins is a retired research scientist who has taught his innovative Exploratory Data Analysis (EDA) techniques in graduate courses at major universities, at the UN, and to national statistical organizations around the world. He is also lifelong gardener and wild mushroom forager who has been a Master Gardener in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina. Over the last several years, he has presented many courses concerning the causes and effects of climate change.

Blue Whales – Biology and Research

Wednesday, January 22nd – 2 PM – $7 per person
Dr. Michael Williamson

Professor Williamson will discuss Blue Whales and the current research of the Mingan Island Cetacean Study, which conducts the world’s longest research program on this species. 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.  Register Here

Biogeography of The Carolinas

Monday, January 27thth– 2 PM -$7 per person
Dr. Chris Marsh-Executive Director of both the Spring Island Trust and the LowCountry Institute

Dr Marsh has over 40 years of experience working in habitats throughout North and South Carolina.   For the past 16 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.Dr. Chris Marsh will give a bird’s eye view of the biogeographical regions of the Carolinas, discussing how unique habitats add to the region’s diversity of plants and animals.  Register Here

Skyscapes and Seascapes

Wednesday, January 29th – 2 PM – $7 per person
Tom Anderson

Skyscapes and Seascapes: As seen from the sea and coastal regions, the sky is a living theater of light and color. The encyclopedia of celestial and marine phenomena visible in maritime environments includes mirages, rainbows, fiery sunsets, the legendary green flash; coronas, sun dogs, glories, waterspouts, and other endlessly changing displays of light and color.  Register Here

Tracking Bird Migrations: Past and Present

Monday, February 3rd – 2 PM – $7 per person
Bob Speare

Since the day John James Audubon tied a silver thread around a bird’s foot in 1808 and verified its return the following year, researchers have been refining methodologies to track the movements of birds. Today, as our planet is rapidly changing, birds and other wildlife are facing growing challenges, and understanding more about their seasonal migrations and the specific routes they travel may be key to their survival. Bob will highlight a variety of ways that birds are being tracked both locally and on a global scale, and some of the amazing things we’re learning about them.

Bob Speare has been a professional naturalist and environmental educator for over 30 years and has led birding and photography trips throughout the US and abroad. He worked for the Massachusetts Audubon Society for 23 years, before moving to the Lowcountry in 2015. Today he continues to lead natural history tours and teaches for a variety of groups including Road Scholar, Audubon, and the Lowcountry Master Naturalist teachers program.  Register Here

H.L. Hunley – Its History, Recovery, and Restoration

Wednesday, February 5th – 2 PM – $7 per person
Steve Quick

Not named until after the tragic death on board of its benefactor the H.L. Hunley went on to be the first successful submarine attack in history. Its first was unfortunately also its last. Lost until its discovery in a watery grave off SC in 1996, it has been under the microscope since it was raised. It has stubbornly clung to many of its secrets for 18 years.

Since 2000 living historian Steve Quick has told the story across the upper Midwest to schools, libraries, museums, round tables and historical events. Relocating to SC he now brings this one of a kind story home. Part history, part technology, part mystery there is something in this compelling story for everyone.  Register Here

Feathered: Who’s who in the Lowcountry?

Monday, February 10th – 2 PM – $7 per person
Diana Churchill

This participatory program will give you an entertaining introduction to some of our Low Country bird celebrities. We are blessed to host a diverse assortment of birds in our forests, marshes, lagoons, tidal creeks, and on our sandy beaches. Bring your eyes, ears and thinking caps!!

Diana Churchill grew up in Savannah and developed an early love for the Low Country’s salt marshes, tidal creeks, and sandy beaches. She earned a B.A. in Spanish from Eckerd College in Florida, and an MA in Holistic Studies from Lesley College in Cambridge, MA. While in Massachusetts, she joined the Brookline Bird Club and got hooked on watching and learning about birds.

Diana moved back to Savannah in December 1998, and began working at Wild Birds Unlimited. In 2001, she began writing a twice-monthly column ­– “Birder’s Eye View” – for the Savannah Morning News. Her first book, Birder’s Eye View: Savannah and the Low Country, was published in December 2011. Birder’s Eye View II: The Low Country was published in 2018. Diana has served several terms as President of Ogeechee Audubon Society, and has led birding and natural history programs for Audubon, Wilderness Southeast, and the Georgia Ornithological Society.  Register Here

Lowcountry Dolphin Research

Wednesday, February 12th – 2 Pm – $7 per person
Eric Montie – University of SC – Beaufort

Register Here

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.  Register Here