Bald Head Island Conservancy

Adopt a Turtle Mom

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Get the chance to be inside the ropes for ALL of the nest excavations laid by your adopted sea turtle mom.

Adopt a Turtle Mom

Thank you for your interest in the Conservancy’s Adopt-a-Mom

Your adoption supports a sea turtle who nests on one of our beaches on Bald Head Island. In adopting, you get the chance to be an important part of our Sea Turtle Protection Team and the chance to be inside the ropes for ALL excavations of nests laid by your adopted mom.

As an Adopt-a-Mom parent, you will receive the following gifts as a thank you for your adoption:

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12" plush sea turtle
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Adoption certificate
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2 Turtle Walk passes*
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Sticker
Copy of Adopt a Nest Experience Signs

Each nest laid by your adopted mom will feature a sign with the adoptive parent’s name throughout the duration of its incubation period (45-70 days). You will receive a notification when each nest has been laid, and an invitation from our Sea Turtle Protection Team to the excavation of each nest three days after hatching (both via email), as well as a birth announcement for each nest detailing the hatch date and success of the nest. At the end of the sea turtle nesting season, an in-depth summary of your adopted mom’s season will be sent to you by our Sea Turtle Biologist, Paul Hillbrand.

Adoption Details

Due to the variability in the number of nesting female sea turtles observed each season, the Conservancy will have limited numbers of Adopt-a-Moms available to adopt each year.

All Adopt-a purchases are symbolic adoptions of a sea turtle or sea turtle nest. No individual or group that participates in our adoption program may claim ownership of a sea turtle nest, egg, or hatchling. Each adoption is considered a donation to support the Conservancy’s Sea Turtle Protection Program. For those that purchase an Adopt-a-Nest, in the unfortunate event that the nest is lost due to a natural disturbance (such as predation or a natural disaster) there will be no refund nor re-assignment of a new nest. Rather, the adoptive parent(s) will be invited to the excavation of another nest. Please allow the Sea Turtle Protection Team at least 2 weeks after a major natural disturbance event to provide an in-depth update on the status of the sea turtle nests.

For questions regarding the Conservancy's Adopt-a-Program, contact Morgan Hooks at hooks@bhic.org.

Thank you for your interest in sea turtle adoption and joining our Sea Turtle Protection Team! As you may know, endangered sea turtles are continuously at risk from many factors, including habitat destruction, entanglement in fishing gear, climate change and pollution. Your support of our Sea Turtle Protection Program allows us to do our part to ensure they continue to thrive on our beautiful barrier island and beyond.

In our appreciation of your gift of adoption, you or the recipient you choose for this wonderful gift will receive exclusive information about a specific sea turtle and our sea turtle season, be recognized as the adoptee on a sea turtle nest, and depending on which adoption option you choose, be invited inside of the ropes for an excavation.

When you adopt, we will assign you to a sea turtle that hatches, a nesting mom, or a nest laid during the current sea turtle nesting season. For Adopt-a-Nests, we will place a sign with your name or the recipient's name on the nest cage. You will receive a notification via email when you are assigned a nest. Your sign will remain on the nest until it hatches, approximately 45-70 days after it was laid. For Adopt-a-Moms and Adopt-a-Legacies, the process is similar, with a sign placed on the nest cage of each of the nests your adopted turtle lays that season.

Through our Sea Turtle Protection Program, we monitor and attempt to tag all female sea turtles that are observed on the beaches of BHI. This monitoring program has been collecting data for 35+ years, allowing us to thoughtfully and accurately select the right turtle for you. Turtles are selected for Legacy or Mom sponsorship if they show signs of great site fidelity to BHI. Legacy sea turtles are moms who consistently nest on Bald Head Island beaches over an extended period of time (4-6 years). We have many nesting females who not only nest on BHI, but also use our neighboring barrier islands. BHI even has some nesting females who use our beaches and neighboring barrier islands in South Carolina and Georgia beaches in the same year! We avoid these less reliable individuals for the Adopt-a-Mom/Legacy program as best as we can and focus our attention on females who have a rich nesting history specific to BHI to ensure that you are able to experience every possible nest that your Legacy or Mom lays in the future.

Our Sea Turtle Protection Team cannot assign an Adopt-a parent to any requested nests or sea turtles, nor guarantee that assignment will be given by a specific date. Adopt-as are assigned chronologically by the date of purchase, utilizing the selection process below.

Assigning an Adopt-a-Nest

  • Nest is found and nesting female is not observed
  • Nest is found and nesting female is observed but not ID’d
  • Nest is found and nesting female is ID’d as a neophyte
    • First 1st nesting season, never observed on BHI before
  • Nest is found and nesting female is ID’d as a remigrant ( returning nester) and there are no Adopt-a-Moms or Adopt-a-Legacy sponsors

Assigning an Adopt-a-Mom

  • Nest is found and nesting female is ID’d as a remigrant (2nd season) or consistent neophyte
    • Depending on site fidelity to BHI
      • Previously laid ≥2 nests on BHI
    • Nest is found and nesting female is ID’d as a remigrant (+3rd season)
      • Previously laid ≥2 nests on BHI in each nesting season
      • If nesting history is extensive (≥3 nests on BHI each nesting season), the individual will be considered for Legacy sponsorship. Though, if there are no Legacy sponsors, the individual will be assigned as an Adopt-a-Mom

The BHI Conservancy cannot guarantee the assigned Adopt-a-Mom or Adopt-a-Legacy individual’s nesting behavior will stay true to BHI. Site fidelity can fluctuate over time.

Assigning an Adopt-a-Legacy

  • Nest is found and nesting female is ID’d as a remigrant (+3rd season) with an extensive and rich nesting history on BHI
    • Previously laid ≥3 nests on BHI each nesting season
  • If it is an individual we haven’t seen in some time, a more in-depth assessment of their nesting history is done before they are assigned as an Adopt-a-Mom or Adopt-a-Legacy

The BHI Conservancy cannot guarantee the assigned Adopt-a-Mom or Adopt-a-Legacy individual’s nesting behavior will stay true to BHI. Site fidelity can fluctuate over time.

PLEASE NOTE: Adopt-a-Moms are sold out for the 2023 Season. If you are interested in an Adopt-a-Mom for the 2024 Season, email seaturtle@bhic.org.

If you are adopting a mom as a gift, please provide the name of the recipient(s), as well as their email address and mailing address (if not the same as yours) in the comment box below.


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