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, 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:

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.

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Miracle of Migration

Monday, October 5th – 2 PM
Diana Churchill – Author

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.

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

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

Wednesday, October 7th- 2 PM
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.  Register Here

The Box that Changed the World

Wednesday, October 14th – 2 PM
Captain Tom Anderson

The invention of the modern shipping container was a paradigm shift that changed the world of sea going commerce.  Containerization guided the design of new ships and the construction of new ports, created new jobs, and delivered products that have revolutionized the lives of millions of people.  Today, a flourishing industry recycles used containers into homes, offices, hospitals, and other important structures.

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

Marine Mammals of South Carolina

Monday, October 19th – 2 PM
Al Segars – Retired Veterinarian, SCDNR

Join Dr. Al Segars, retired veterinarian with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, for a presentation on the marine mammals sharing our coast focusing on the critically endangered the Northern Right Whale. Topics will include dolphins, whales, manatees, seals and the latest information on Right Whales and appropriate behavior around marine mammals. 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

The Great Southern Swamp

Monday, October 26th – 2 PM
Robert Rommel – Wildlife Photographer and Biologist

Historically roughly 1/3 of the state of South Carolina was covered with wetlands.  The vast majority of these wetlands were in the coastal plains.  As you leave the immediate coastline, the wetlands were dominated by cypress swamps.  We’ll examine the history of this great swamp and the biology of what makes the cypress tree unique.  We’ll also discuss some of the dynamics of this unique ecosystem and the animals and plants that make the cypress swamp their home.

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.Register Here

The Ripple Effects of Pesticides

Wednesday, October 28th – 2 PM
Juliana Smith – South Carolina Coastal Conservation League

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.Register Here

These programs may be scheduled later in the year. Please check back for updated information soon!

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.

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.

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.

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.