A sea turtle hatchling crawls to the sea. Photo courtesy of Outer Banks Forever

Updated July 8, 2022.

Sea Turtle nesting is underway and biological technicians at Cape Hatteras National Seashore have discovered 186 nests so far this season, a significant increase in nests compared to this time last year.

Of those nests, 126 have been adopted — which means there are more nests available for adoption. Outer Banks Forever has a goal of having 200 nests adopted by the end of August.

Outer Banks Forever, the official nonprofit partner of the Outer Banks national parks, has opened its annual Adopt a Sea Turtle Nest program for the sea-turtle nesting season at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, which occurs from May to October each year.

The program was launched in 2020 to support projects and programs that protect and enhance Cape Hatteras National Seashore now and for future generations.

In 2021, the program raised more than $10,000 to support Cape Hatteras National Seashore, and it was recently recognized by the Public Lands Alliance for Outstanding Public Engagement at its annual awards ceremony.

“The Adopt a Sea Turtle Nest program is a fun way for people to learn more about these popular island visitors and the work our national park staff does every day to help protect them,” said Jessica Barnes, director of Outer Banks Forever. “It’s also fun for us to send updates to each person who adopts a nest, particularly sharing the number of sea-turtle hatchlings that make their way out of each nest.”

You can symbolically adopt an active sea-turtle nest at Cape Hatteras National Seashore with a tax-deductible donation of $100 or more. With your donation, you will receive an official 2022 adoption certificate and updates on your specific nest including sea turtle species, number of eggs, number of hatchlings and more once your nest hatches.

A sea turtle nest. Photo courtesy of Outer Banks Forever.

Here is how the program works:

Give — Make your tax-deductible donation online at obxforever.org/adoptaseaturtlenest, 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.

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

Wait for your nest to hatch — When your nest hatches, 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 to the ocean.

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

Participants, please note that no individual or group that participates in this program may claim ownership of a sea-turtle nest, eggs or hatchlings. For the safety of the sea turtles, your exact nest location will not be shared until after it has hatched.

You can learn more about the sea turtles that visit the Outer Banks at www.obxforever.org/category/sea-turtles.