Cape Hatteras National Seashore rangers identify and cordon off sea turtle nests on the beach each year. The public can support the turtles by ‘adopting’ nests. Photo: C. Leinbach

Kill Devil Hills — Outer Banks Forever, the local nonprofit partner of the OBX national parks, has opened its annual Adopt a Sea Turtle Nest program for the 2021 sea turtle nesting season which occurs each year between May and October.

The Adopt a Sea Turtle Nest program supports projects and programs that protect and enhance Cape Hatteras National Seashore now and for future generations. 

You can symbolically adopt an active sea turtle nest located on the Seashore for a minimum tax-deductible donation of $100. With your donation you receive an official 2021 adoption certificate and updates on your specific nest including sea turtle species, number of eggs, number of hatchlings and more.

There are a limited number of nests each year and they are assigned on a first come, first-served basis. 

The Adopt a Sea Turtle Nest program not only helps our national park, but the foundation sends out updates to each person who adopts – particularly the number of baby sea turtles that hatch out of each nest.

“It’s a great way to feel connected to these amazing animals while also supporting Cape Hatteras National Seashore,” says Jessica Barnes Green, director of Outer Banks Forever. 

Here’s how the program works: 

Give — Make your tax-deductible donation online at or by mail to Outer Banks Forever at P.O. Box 1635, Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948, with “Adopt a Sea Turtle Nest” in the memo field.  

Get your nest — You will be assigned an active sea turtle nest and receive an adoption certificate by mail along with initial information about your unique nest including general location and turtle species. Please note: As sea turtles are just starting to arrive in May, it may take 2 to 3 weeks to be assigned a nest.  

Wait for your nest to hatch — When your nest hatches this summer or fall, you will receive a personalized update with detailed information about your nest including where it was located and the number of hatchlings that made their way out of your nest. 

Because nature belongs to all of us, no individual or group that participates in this program may claim ownership of a sea turtle nest, eggs or hatchlings. Additionally, nature is unpredictable. If your adopted nest is lost to a weather event or damaged by some other means, Outer Banks Forever will assign you a new nest. 

To learn more about the sea turtles who visit the Outer Banks each year, Outer Banks Forever’s recent Coffee with a Ranger video is available on its YouTube channel featuring sea turtle insights from Meaghan Johnson, chief of Resource Management and Science for the National Parks of Eastern North Carolina. 

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