Shrimp Tales: Small BItes of History

Date:  -
Location:  Coastal Discovery Museum

Coastal Discovery Museum 70 Honey Horn Dr, Hilton Head Island, SC 29926

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The Coastal Discovery Museum will host author Beverly Bowers Jennings on December 2, 2020.

The first of its kind, this unique photo book portrays the people, places, and boats that tell the fascinating story of the commercial shrimping industry in the Southeast. The book begins with the region’s earliest shrimpers: Italian and Portuguese fishermen who came to Fernandina and St. Augustine at the end of the 19th century and turned shrimping into a profitable industry. Hundreds of historical and recent photos provide perspectives on life in the major shrimping ports up and down the coast, such as St. Augustine, Thunderbolt, Port Royal, Beaufort, Hilton Head Island, Bennetts Point, Edisto, Rockville, Shem Creek, McClellanville and Georgetown. One chapter offers a colorful glimpse of the annual Blessing of the Fleet ceremonies, while another examines the integral role that shrimpers played in keeping the German chemical company BASF from building a plant that could have devastated the local fishery. This event may have saved the future of many seaside resorts like Hilton Head that depended on clean waters. Based on years of research and relentless pursuit of the images that tell the tale, this book is more than just a photo history. It is a story of a community and culture.

"My love of the saltwater and fishing began when I was 6 years old in Connecticut. At that time, my father built me a white wooden rowboat with red trim named Little Fish. Fiber-glassing was in its infancy, and a friend of his suggested that he try using it. He covered the boat with a cloth and topped it with pink fiberglass resin. I loved rowing that boat, and used to take friends out to their anchored boats for sailing and fishing. 20 years ago, we bought a home on Hilton Head Island, a place we had first started visiting in 1997. Living here enhanced my fascination with the Lowcountry and the waters surrounding it. This led me in 2010 to enroll in the Clemson Extension Service Master Naturalist Program. The program introduced me to Kathryn Mills, who was just starting to transform the Lemon Island Marina, Okatie, SC, into the Port Royal Sound Foundation Maritime Center. I was invited to create exhibits on the history of shrimping, crabbing and oystering.  This book is a natural extension of the 10 years I spent researching and writing about the Lowcountry. I have interviewed well over 100 fishermen, biologists and other people involved in the shrimp industry. Proceeds of this book will be donated to the South Carolina Seafood Alliance. My goal is to preserve the history of the shrimping industry, which has much less written about it than oystering and crabbing. My hope is that I have preserved some of this unique Lowcountry history. Shrimpers and their families have been amazingly generous in sharing their photographs, stories and support. The research of the East coast commercial shrimping industry and especially the people who make their living fishing the open waters of the Atlantic have become a major passion for me, and with this book I want to honor them. I cannot tell you have much I have gained from their friendships."

$7 in person, $5 virtual viewing.  Reservations are required by calling 843-689-6767 ext. 223.

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