From Seashells to Driftwood: Beachcombing With Anna Marlis Burgard - Atlas Obscura Experiences

From Seashells to Driftwood: Beachcombing With Anna Marlis Burgard

4 sessions
$65 per person
See Dates
$65 per person
$65 per person
See Dates
What We’ll Do

This course has already started! However, you can still join if you’d like to (and we hope you will!). Students enrolling after the course start date and time will have access to a recording of the first session (which will be emailed to participants within 72 hours) as well as the option to attend remaining sessions live. Please select the “Join Late” ticket type to enroll after the course has begun.

In this 4-part lecture series, learn about the shells, pebbles, and creatures found on U.S. coastal shorelines.

Course Description

The treasures you find along the beach are more than decorative objects—they’re homes to the animals who created them and have been shaped by the marine environment around them. This course will enable collectors to more thoughtfully explore U.S. coastal shorelines, identify shells, and learn some of the surprising ways their residents walk, swim, hunt, and contribute to our lives beyond their beauty. Join Anna Marlis Burgard—lifelong collector, bestselling author of The Beachcomber’s Companion and founder of Islands of America—who will share histories, surprising facts, and stories about both well known and more unexpected creatures and their relics that wind up onshore. Anna will also share concrete tips, like where to go for great shelling and how to do it without doing damage to wildlife or ecosystems you visit. Along the way, we’ll hear from expert guests, including Smithsonian scientist Dr. David Pawson, wampum artisan Berta Welch, and park ranger Edward Perry IV. By the end of our time together, you’ll have learned more about the life between the high and low tide lines, gained concrete tips and tricks for being a better beachcomber, and maybe even become inspired to create art sourced from the sea.

Syllabus At A Glance

This course includes four total sessions, each lasting 50 minutes on four consecutive Wednesdays beginning June 22.

Session 1 (Wednesday, 6/22, 7–7:50 PM ET)| Undersea Architects: The animals building, inhabiting, and recycling shells

Session 2 (Wednesday, 6/29, 7–7:50 PM ET)| Life in the Sand: Who’s who in the littoral zone, from ghost crabs to coquina clams

Session 3 (Wednesday, 7/6, 7–7:50 PM ET)| Animal, Vegetable, or Mineral?: Sea beans, arrowheads, pebbles, and more

Session 4 (Wednesday, 7/13, 7–7:50 PM ET)| Art of the Sea: What can be crafted from objects washed ashore, building a shell collecting kit, and cleaning tips

Between Sessions

While there won’t be any required homework, students will be encouraged to share photos of their seashells or other beach finds, swap beachcombing or maritime resources, and post questions outside of class.

Pricing Options

This course is available at three ticket prices. This tiered pricing model is designed to increase access for a wider range of students as well as to support our instructors. In addition to tiered tickets, we offer a limited number of no-pay spots for students who would not otherwise be able to take this course. No-pay spots are selected via a randomized drawing two weeks before each section begins. For more information and to apply for a no-pay spot, please click here. To learn more about our pricing model and randomized selection process for no-pay spots, please visit our FAQ page.

Community Guidelines for Students

Please take a moment to review our community guidelines for students, which aim to share our classroom ethos and help set the stage for the best possible learning experience.

Atlas Obscura Online Courses

Atlas Obscura Courses offer opportunities for participants to emerge with new skills, knowledge, connections, and perspectives through multi-session classes designed and taught by expert instructors. To learn more about our current course offerings, please visit For answers to commonly asked questions, check out our FAQ page here.

Founded in 2009, Atlas Obscura created the definitive community-driven guide to incredible places across the planet and is now an award-winning company that shares the world’s hidden wonders in person and online.

Where We’ll Be

Once registered, you’ll receive a confirmation email from Eventbrite that will provide access to each class meeting. Please save the confirmation email as you’ll use it to access all sessions of your course via Zoom.

About Your Instructor
Anna Marlis Burgard
Anna Marlis Burgard

Lifelong shell collector Anna Marlis Burgard is the author of the bestselling book The Beachcomber’s Companion and the founding author and photographer for Islands of America: A River, Lake and Sea Odyssey. She’s also covered sailors’ superstitions, midnight jubilees, and more for Atlas Obscura, and has visited 135 islands in the United States along with others in Europe and Africa. She lives on Tybee Island in Georgia, where the state shell is the knobbed whelk.

What Else You Should Know

This lecture series is designed so students can participate live or watch a recording of each session, after it airs, at a time that is convenient for them. Sessions will take place live over Zoom, with dedicated Q&A segments for students to ask questions via video or chat. Within 72 hours after each session meets, students will receive access to a recording of the live session, which they can watch for up to two weeks after the course concludes.

Instructors may use Google Classroom to communicate with students outside of class. While students aren’t required to use Google Classroom, instructors may use this platform to post resources, discussion questions, or assignments. This platform also offers a space for students to connect with one another about course material between sessions.

We provide closed captioning for all of our courses and can share transcripts upon request. Please reach out to us at if you have any questions, requests, or accessibility needs.

Dates and Availability

There are no upcoming experiences at the moment. Fill out the form below to be notified when we add new dates.

All fields required.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.