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 – 2017 – 2018:

The Coastal Discovery Museum’s Discovery Lecture Series will address four overarching themes in its offerings between October and May. October and November will focus upon Sea Turtles, inviting experts from around the state to share their research, expertise, and conservation methods with our attendees. Please check back often for the updated schedule.

Lumbering Loggerheads vs. Kinetic Kemp’s: Comparing and contrasting the coastal ecology of two sea turtle species

Wednesday, October 4th – 3 PM, $7 per person
Presented by Michael D. Arendt, PhD.  – Principal Investigator in In-Water Sea Turtle Research at the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

Near-shore coastal waters off South Carolina are important foraging and developmental habitats for several sea turtle species for much of the year.  Since 2000, the SCDNR in partnership with the University of Georgia Marine Extension Service/Sea Grant has conducted in-water surveys using modified shrimp nets to assess sea turtle distribution, relative abundance, and population structure/health.  Several thousand loggerhead and several hundred Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles have been captured to date, a subset of which have also been outfitted with telemetry devices to monitor their whereabouts after initial data collection at sea.  This talk will provide an overview of major findings of this unique sea turtle data set, with emphasis on how these data have been used to refine sea turtle management in the region, as well as identify knowledge gaps and future research priorities. Register Here

Sea Turtle Care at the South Carolina Aquarium

Wednesday, October 11th – 3 PM, $7 per person
Presented by Kelly Thorvalson – Conservation Programs Manager at the South Carolina Aquarium

Sick and injured sea turtles that arrive at the South Carolina Aquarium are often in critical condition suffering from severe debilitation, plastic ingestion, or injury from boat strikes or fishing gear. Staff veterinarians, Care Center staff and volunteers provide treatments and rehabilitative care. In this lecture, learn what it takes to rehabilitate these ancient reptiles, get information on Hilton Head patients, and take a closer look at interesting trends in live strandings. Kelly Thorvalson is a native of Georgetown, SC and received her BS degree in Marine Biology from the College of Charleston. She started with the Aquarium in 1997 and began working with sea turtles when the Aquarium admitted the first sea turtle in need of rehabilitation. Kelly took over day to day operations of the Sea Turtle Care Center in 2004, greatly developing the program, including helping design the state of the art sea turtle hospital expansion that opened in May 2017. In Kelly’s current role as Conservation Programs Manager, she continues working with the Sea Turtle Care Center but is also helping to advance Good Catch, the Aquarium’s sustainable seafood program, the Resiliency Initiative for Coastal Education (RICE), and strategic plastics initiatives to reduce the negative environmental impacts of plastics. Register Here  

Saving Loggerheads in SC: Early Research and Conservation Efforts

Wednesday, October 18th – 3 PM $7 per person
Presented by Dr. Tom Murphy, retired biologist from the SC Department of Natural Resources

Join the Coastal Discovery Museum to learn about the earliest research on loggerhead sea turtles conducted in South Carolina. Doctor Tom Murphy was a key scientist involved with this research and the conservation of the nesting Loggerhead population in South Carolina. His research focus was the inter-nesting habitat used by Loggerheads and the effects of disturbance on nesting loggerheads and the study of displaced turtles’ homing instincts. Dr. Murphy will also discuss the framework for future research and conservation practices in our region. Come and join us at the Coastal Discovery Museum for an afternoon with an unforgettable speaker. Tom Murphy studied endangered Loggerhead Sea Turtles, Alligators, bald eagles and other species that were at one point on the endangered species list. Dr. Murphy pioneered the study and early conservation efforts of nesting loggerhead sea turtles on the coast of South Carolina.  Register Here

Loggerhead Sea Turtles on Hilton Head Island

Wednesday, October 25th – 3 PM $7 per person
Presented by Dawn Brut, Curator of Education at the Coastal Discovery Museum and member of the HHI Sea Turtle Protection Project

The Coastal Discovery Museum has been operating the Hilton Head Island Sea Turtle Protection Project since 1985. We educate the public about sea turtles and the increased awareness of how to live responsibly alongside these magnificent animals has helped increase the number of successful nests on our beaches. Museum staff and volunteers also participate on the daily beach patrols and run the Sea Turtle Adopt-A-Nest program. Come and join Sea Turtle Protection Project staff member Dawn Brut to learn more about Loggerhead Sea Turtle nesting and protection on Hilton Head Island.     Register Here

Marine Turtle Conservation

Wednesday, November 8 th – 3 PM $7 per person
Presented by  Michelle Pate -Coordinator for Marine Turtle Conservation Program for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

Come and join biologist Michelle Pate to learn what the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources does for sea turtle conservation in the state. A number of sea turtle protection projects that cover the coast of South Carolina are managed by the Department of Natural Resources. Michelle is the Program Coordinator of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Marine Turtle Conservation Program. This presentation will cover the history of Sea Turtle conservation in SC, from it start in the mid 70’s to the present.  Recent years have seen record nesting on several of the Sea Turtle Protection projects in South Carolina. Is this due to an increase in the Loggerhead Sea Turtle numbers? Come and learn what challenges  sea turtle conservation in South Carolina faced in the past, and what challenges lay ahead in the future. Register Here

Saving Sea Turtles Through Citizen Science

Wednesday, November 15th – 3 PM $7 per person
Presented by  Christi Hughes – Conservation and Research Specialist at the South Carolina Aquarium

The evolution of the South Carolina Aquarium as a conservation organization is evident in its transition from simply triaging sick and injured sea turtles to the Sea Turtle Care Center to a broader thought process of proactively mitigating environmental risk factors impacting sea turtles in the wild. In collaboration with Mount Desert Island Biological Lab, the South Carolina Aquarium is partnering with people around the region to crowdsource meaningful, actionable environmental data to conserve local sea turtle populations by improving the health and safety of our shared physical environment. Join us to discover how you can help us save sea turtles and learn about the South Carolina Aquarium’s efforts. As the Conservation and Research Specialist for the South Carolina Aquarium, Christi Hughes is aiding the Aquarium in implementing ambitious conservation initiatives designed to inspire diverse audiences to engage in science-based discussions around environmental plastic pollution, recovery of imperiled sea turtle species, and climate change. In addition to over a decade of experience in sea turtle biology and conservation, Christi also currently serves as the Secretary of the Southeast Regional Sea Turtle Network and on the scientific advisory panel of the Gulf Coast Turtle Island Restoration Network. Register Here

Additional programs planned include:

October/November – Sea Turtles:  genetic research, History of Turtle Excluder Devices, Sea Turtle Stranding Network, and more.

December/January – Birds and Birding: Wintering ducks management, Lowcountry owls, Brown Pelican research, Wood Stork conservation, and wading birds.

February/March – Climate Change: Climate change and invasive plants, sea level rise and local planning, water temperatures and sea life

April/May – Human Impacts on our Environment: Plastics, microplastics, human impact on marine mammals, oysters and water quality, municipal reactions and initiatives.

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.


Reflecting on Hurricane Matthew, One Year Later

Monday, October 9th – 5 PM – Coligny Theatre – Presented by Steve Riley, Hilton Head Island Town Manager

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

Hurricane Matthew made an unwelcome visit to Hilton Head Island in October, 2016. To reflect upon this historic event, the Coastal Discovery Museum has invited Hilton Head Island’s Town Manager, Steve Riley to the October session of the History Forum of the Lowcountry. Mr. Riley will review the preparation and response to the storm, the progress made to date, lessons learned, and what remains to be done.

November 3, 2017 –3 PM –  Commemorating Tomochichi in Savannah – Dr. Robin B. Williams (Savannah College of Art and Design)

The Native American Indian Chief Tomochichi, who helped Oglethorpe establish Savannah and the Georgia colony, experienced a level of commemoration unrivaled among Native Americans with monuments and buildings honoring his life.  Yet, for over a century from the late 1700s until the late 1800s, he was all but forgotten and only slowly regained the prominence in the decades that followed.  The ebb and flow of his reputation mirrored that of Native Americans nationally, but Tomochichi achieved a level of recognition that remains remarkable.

Our speaker, Dr. Robin B. Williams, is the chair of the Architectural History Department at the Savannah College of Art and Design, where he specializes in the history of modern architecture and cities in Europe and North America.  He earned his Ph.D in Art History at the University of Pennsylvania.  Since joining SCAD in 1993, Williams has focused his research on Savannah, directing the online Virtual Historic Savannah Project 1997-2006 and lead authoring a new guidebook, Buildings of Savannah.  His current research analyzes the evolution of street and sidewalk pavement across the USA.

December 2017 – TBD

January 2018 – African American Experience at Cockspur Island –  Amber DeBardelaben (Fort Pulaski National Monument)

February 15th, 2018 – Revolutionary War Trail in South Carolina – Doug Bostick (SC Battleground Trust)

March 1, 2018 – Rice Culture and Cultivation in the Antebellum Lowcountry – Richard Porcher (SC Historical Society)

March 2018 – Field Trip to Historic Bluffton – Heyward House Historic Center and Bluffton Historical Preservation Society

April 2018 – TBD

May 2018 – TBD