Untamed Lowcountry

Outdoors, nature programs on tap at Coastal Discovery Museum

By Jeff Kidd


Several outdoors and nature programs are planned for December and early 2016 at the Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn on Hilton Head Island, including events featuring bald eagles, sea turtles and rattlesnakes.

The museum is at 70 Honey Horn Drive on Hilton Head Island.

Billfish migration, 3 p.m. Dec. 8: Wallace Jenkins of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources will share information about how billfish migrate, and what DNR and researchers have learned about them. By using pop-off satellite tags, biologist have been able to better document the seasonal movements of popular billfish species like blue marlin and sailfish, and now have a glimpse of what these fish do on a daily basis.

This program is offered as a program to complement the traveling exhibition, “The Great Sporting Fish,” which is at the museum through Dec. 31. The exhibition features paintings by Stanley Meltzoff, a painter of saltwater game fish.

There is no charge for the program, but reservations are required by calling 843-689-6767, extension 223.

Jim Elliott, executive director of the Center for Birds of Prey in Awendaw, holds a bald eagle that was released into the wild in April 2015 in Beaufort County. File photo

Bald eagles, 3 p.m. Jan. 6: Tom Murphy, a retired DNR biologist who spent 33 years as the principal investigator for its bald eagle program, will share his knowledge of the natural history of the Lowcountry population. This presentation will cover the successes and difficulties in recovering and maintaining bald eagles in South Carolina, where they were once nearly non-existent. 

Several factors contributed to the decimation of the national bird, however, these spectacular predators were taken off the endangered species list in 2007 and are now a common sight in Beaufort County skies. Learn how our national bird became an endangered species, about the efforts that helped bring them back, and what we can do to secure their future.

The cost $7 per person. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 843-689-6767, extension 223.

Nature photography, 2 to 3:30 p.m. on Thursdays starting Jan. 7: Professional photographer Scott Moody will teach nature photography in a weekly series that will run through Feb. 18. After a brief introduction indoors, participants will explore the scenic and historic Honey Horn grounds to learn about lighting, subject matter, and composition. Cost is $40 per person and reservations are required by calling 843-689-6767, extension 223.

Curator Bob Bender peers into an aquarium as two diamondback terrapins follow his fingers through the glass at the Lowcountry Estuarium in Port Royal. Bender will deliver a program on crustaceans for the Coastal Discovery Museum. Sarah Welliver The Beaufort Gazette

Crustaceans, 3 p.m. Jan. 20: Bob Bender -- an artist, naturalist and curator of the Lowcountry Estuarium in the town of Port Royal -- will give a presentation crustaceans. Dating to mid-Cambrian period some 500 million years ago, more than 67,000 species of crustacea include some tasty critters found in local waters. Also to be discussed are some of their lesser known cousins. Live critters will be shown.

Biogeographical regions of the Carolinas, 3 p.m. Jan. 27: 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. Marsh has more than 40 years of experience working in habitats throughout the Carolilnas. For the past 16 years, he has served as executive director of both the Spring Island Trust and the LowCountry Institute.

The cost $7 per person. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 843-689-6767, extension 223.

Uniqueness of Port Royal Sound, 3 p.m. Feb. 3: The Port Royal Sound stands apart from other estuaries on the East coast.  It is a submerged coastline created by rising sea level, exceptionally high tides, and unique geology, according to a Discovery Museum news release. The result is a vast expanse of salt marsh and a critical marine habitat.

Learn about this environment, how it was formed and its biodiversity from speaker is Kristen Marshall Mattson, an environmental educator with the LowCountry Institute and Spring Island Trust.  She is co-instructor of the Master Naturalist program and host of “Night Skies Over Beaufort County”.

Mark Carinus, left and Joe Maffo, owner of Critter Management, hold two of the rattlesnakes that were removed from a Hilton Head Island residence in 2012. Casey Conley The Island Packet

"Lowcountry Snakes," 3 to 4 p.m. Feb. 17: Tony Mills, the education director for the LowCountry Institute will cover the natural history of many snakes commonly found in the Lowcountry.  From the venomous rattlesnakes to colorful milk snakes, our region is home to numerous species that play essential rules in our ecosystem. Live snakes will be shown. 

The cost $7 per person. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 843-689-6767, extension 223.

A loggerhead sea turtle hatching makes its way from the beach at Fripp Island to the surf. Janie Lackman Submitted photo

Sea turtles, 3 p.m. Feb. 24: Sea Turtles by land and by sea will provide a close look at the offshore sea turtle research conducted by the DNR. An update on sea turtle monitoring in South Carolina and the south Atlantic, looking at both beach nesting efforts as well as offshore research efforts DNR will be included.

Al Segars, a veterinarian with the SCDNR with a long career studying the endangered and threatened species on our coast is the presenter.

The cost $7 per person. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 843-689-6767, extension 223.