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How to Adopt a Sea Turtle

Adopting a sea turtle is a noble cause. As you may know, most sea turtle species are critically endangered, endangered, or vulnerable.

Adopting a sea turtle allows you to make donations towards the upkeep of hatchlings or the rehabilitation of rescues. Many adoption programs offer contributors certificates of the adoption tracking number that allows you to track your adopted sea turtle online and other small gifts.

Of course, the gifts aren’t the most important aspects of adopting a turtle but rather the ability to help an endangered or threatened species survive. If you are wondering how to adopt a sea turtle I recommend checking out the sites featured later in this article.

Steps to Take When Adopting A Sea Turtle

Green Turtle Rescue in someone's hands
Green Turtle Rescue in someone’s hands.

Adopting a sea turtle is very different from adopting a freshwater turtle. Since individuals are not allowed to keep sea turtles in their homes, when you adopt a sea turtle, you contribute to a sea turtle rescue program such as  WWF.

With this adoption, you contribute to the upkeep of a turtle hatchling or a rescue. A contribution can be a one-time contribution or a monthly contribution.

You can even adopt sea turtle nests.  What should I do if I wish to adopt a turtle near me?

  • Find a reputable rescue program or sea turtle conservation program to adopt from. 
  • Choose the right sea turtle adoption option or adoptable patient for you.
    • You can adopt an adult rescue. Your contribution will go into the rehabilitation and treatment of the rescue. You can even track the rescue after its treatment as they are outfitted with satellite transmitters which allow marine biologists to monitor its recovery and after rehabilitation.
    • You can also name (adopt) a hatchling. These are hatchlings brought to the rescues during nesting season. After they are treated and strong, they are released so they can make their way into the ocean.
    • Lastly, you can adopt a nest. This involves making contributions that will go into nesting surveys. This helps biologists to better understand the reproductive behaviors of species. This will ensure biologists know the health of the populations of the species in different nesting sites. Adopting a nest also contributes to conservation programs that nurse and incubate nests and keep them safe from poachers who collect the eggs in large quantities to sell to consumers in places where turtle egg consumption is commonplace. 
  • Fill out the form and make payment. 
  • Conservations and rescues offer gifts to people who adopt. 

Some Amazing Adoption Programs

Here are some amazing adoption programs you can check out if you are interested in adopting a sea turtle.

Loggerhead Marinelife Center 

Aerial photo of the Loggerhead Marinelife Center
Aerial photo of the Loggerhead Marinelife Center.

This is a sea turtle rehabilitation center located in Loggerhead Park, Juno Beach, Florida.

Founded in 1983, this conservation center focuses on sea turtle conservation, education, rehabilitation, and research. The sea turtles focused on are endangered and threatened sea turtles.

Although this organization has loggerhead in its name, they allow for the adoption of loggerhead, green, and leatherback sea turtles.

There are different adoption packages available here. These include adopting a rehabilitated turtle, name-a-hatchling, classroom adoption, and adopt-a-nest.

In return for adoption, Loggerhead Marinelife Center offers a package with items such as an adoption certificate, hats, reusable straws, reusable bags, plushies, stickers, photo frames, and photos, and a subscription to an e-newsletter.

Gumbo Limbo Nature Center

Sea Turtle in rehab at the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center
Sea Turtle in rehab at the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center. – Source

Gumbo Limbo Nature Center is a nature center that is found in Boca Raton, Florida. The sea turtle conservation and rehabilitation of leatherback, green, and loggerhead sea turtles are what this organization is best known for.

Gumbo Limbo Nature Center works in conjunction with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission with the aim of protecting the nesting habitats of the leatherback, green, and loggerhead sea turtles in Florida.

Gumbo Limbo Nature Center also houses the research facility of the Biological Sciences Department of  Florida Atlantic University.

Gumbo Limbo Nature Center allows individuals to adopt resident sea turtles. Their contributions are made to cover the costs of caring for resident turtles at the center.

You can contribute to the feeding of hatchlings, small turtles, and large turtles. You can also contribute to the medications and even tumor removal surgery of the turtles in their care.

In return for your contributions, Gumbo Limbo Nature Center offers a certificate of adoption, electronic follow-ups, video messages, stuffed turtles, patient updates, and many more.

Miami-Dade County Sea Turtle Conservation Program (Adopt-A-Sea Turtle Nest)

The Miami-Dade County Sea Turtle Conservation started in 1980 with the aim of surveying and documenting nesting activities in Miami-Dade County from March to October. The program marks, studies, and collects data and information on nests within the county.

This information is given to federal, state, and local agencies. This information/data helps to determine the needed sea turtle conservation management and planning.

The Adopt-A-Sea Turtle Nest program was started in June 2022. For a contribution of $100, individuals or even groups can adopt a sea turtle nest.

Miami-Dade County Sea Turtle Conservation’s page makes sure to underline that adoption is symbolic and that you won’t actually touch or hold the turtles. Upon donating, you will receive a certificate of adoption with your name.

Also, you will receive an email notification upon the hatching of the eggs in the nest you adopt.

World Wide Fund for Nature (ADOPT A TURTLE)

World Wide Fund for Nature's well-known logo on a hot air balloon
World Wide Fund for Nature’s well-known logo on a hot air balloon. – Source

This is an international NGO that focuses on preserving and minimizing the effects of humans on wildlife and ecosystems around the world. WWF is the biggest conservation institution in the world.

The Adopt A Turtle program allows you to adopt a turtle. With this program, you can adopt a sea turtle and track it.

This organization focuses on all seven sea turtle species. Your donation goes to fund programs that protect nesting & foraging habitats of the marine turtles and programs that track the global movements of the turtles.

Upon adoption, you receive a video background, a plushie, updates, educational material, and a certificate of adoption.

Oceanic Society (Adopt a Sea Turtle)

The Oceanic Society is a non-profit organization based in California and founded in 1969. The aim of this organization is to preserve marine life and promote better relations between nature and humans.

The Adopt a Sea Turtle program allows you to support conservation programs around the world. According to the Oceanic Society, your contribution supports conservation programs across the world.

Upon adopting a sea turtle, you will receive a printed or digital adoption certificate depending on your location. Turtles you can adopt include leatherback, green, hawksbill, Olive Ridley, Kemp’s Ridley, flatback, and loggerhead sea turtles.

Sea Turtle Conservancy (Adopt-A-Turtle)

Sea Turtle Conservancy is a nonprofit membership organization in Florida. Sea Turtle Conservancy’s main work involves sea turtle habitat preservation as well as advocacy for protective laws.

This conservancy helped in the establishment of the Tortuguero National Park where the Sea Turtle Conservancy carries out a turtle tagging program. Sea Turtle Conservancy also supports hundreds of projects all over the world.

The Adopt-A-Turtle program by Sea Turtle Conservancy allows you to make a donation of $30 to $40 depending on your location for yourself or someone else. This is the lowest donation you can make.

Upon making a contribution, you create a certificate of adoption, a subscription to Sea Turtle Conservancy publication, a magnet, a sticker, a bookmark, and a window cling. You can also track your own sea turtle online once you have adopted it.

Mote Marine Laboratory

Edgar, a blind Green Sea Turtle at Mote Marine Laboratory
Edgar, a blind Green Sea Turtle at Mote Marine Laboratory. – Source

Mote Marine Laboratory is a non-profit organization located in Mote Marine Laboratory.

This institution was created in 1955 and used to be formerly called Cape Haze Marine Laboratory from 1955 to 1967. The Mote Marine Laboratory receives over 300,000 yearly visitors based on data from 2017.

Mote Marine Laboratory was created to support sustainable usage of marine resources, conservation, and the advancement of marine education and science. Mote Marine Laboratory is a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

Mote Marine Laboratory allows you to adopt one of its five sea turtles. These include one Kemp’s ridley Bellatrix, two green turtles Harry and Hang Tough, and two loggerheads – Montego & Shelley.

There are two adoption packages. The first includes a certificate of adoption, fact sheets, and a photo of the adopted turtle.

The second package includes a window cling, a plushie, a letter from the caretaker,  a certificate of adoption, fact sheets, and a photo of the adopted turtle.

Olive Ridley Project

An important post made by Olive Ridley Project's Facebook Page
An important post made by Olive Ridley Project’s Facebook Page. – Source

This is a project that seeks to protect sea turtles and their habitats. Olive Ridley Project focuses on outreach, education, rehabilitation, and rescues.

Olive Ridley Project allows you to adapt turtles in several countries such as Kenya, the Maldives, and Seychelles. You can also adopt resident turtles and even famous sea turtles.

Upon adopting a turtle, you get to name the turtle. After contributing, you receive updates, a fact sheet, and a certificate of adoption. You may also receive wallpapers or even a book.

People can also adopt turtle patients that are receiving treatment. With these, you receive updates on recovery as well as a notification when the turtle is returned to its natural habitat.

This is in addition to a certificate of adoption and a fact sheet.

Dolphin Discovery Center

This is an organization found in Australia that allows people to interact with dolphins. They also offer dolphin tours. In addition to this, Dolphin Discovery Center also offers turtle rehabilitation to turtle rescues found in Western Australia. 

You can adopt one of the rescues and contribute to its rehabilitation. 

Project Biodiversity (Projeto Biodiversidade)

A post of a sea turtle on sand made by Project Biodiversity (Projeto Biodiversidade)
A post of a sea turtle on sand made by Project Biodiversity (Projeto Biodiversidade). – Source

This is a nonprofit organization found on the West African island of Cape Verde also known as Cabo Verde. This organization aims to protect the wildlife of Sal in Cape Verde.

The conservation and protection of the endangered loggerhead turtle is the main aim of Project Biodiversity. Loggerheads nest in Sal from June to October and Project Biodiversity aims to protect these majestic creatures as they nest.

Project Biodiversity also allows you to symbolically adopt a baby turtle. Upon adoption, you can name the hatchling and receive a certificate of adoption.


Infographic about adopting sea turtles
Infographic about adopting sea turtles

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you own a sea turtle?

You cannot own a sea turtle as it is against the law for individuals to do so. In all countries where sea turtles are endemic, it is illegal to keep a pet sea turtle.

Only authorized sea turtle rehabilitation centers and conservations can keep sea turtles. These sea turtles are rescued and are generally kept for a limited amount of time for treatment.

It is also illegal to sell sea turtles or transport them without the necessary authorization. All sea turtles are listed in Appendix I of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) which makes the transportation of specimens illegal.

In the United States, individuals caught keeping sea turtles as a pet, transporting, selling, or receiving sea turtles will be prosecuted and fined thousands of dollars. Even worse, you can end up in prison for 6 months.

Why should you buy a Track A Sea Turtle bracelet?

Before you buy a track-a-sea-turtle bracelet, you need to make sure it is from a reputable source and that your contribution will actually go into helping sea turtles. The Sea Turtle Tracking Bracelet by Ocean & Co is sold in collaboration with Mote Marine Laboratory.

The purchase of this bracelet comes with a card that allows you to track rehabilitated sea turtles via GPS tags. Buying a Track A Sea Turtle bracelet allows you to contribute to the rehabilitation of a wild sea turtle.

How can I adopt a turtle near me?

Firstly, you need to find a turtle rehabilitation center or conservancy near you.
Almost all sea turtle rehabilitation centers and conservancies allow you to adopt a turtle. If you do not live near the sea then you may not find a rehabilitation center or conservancy near you.

However, you can also adopt a freshwater turtle or adopt a turtle from a conservancy that isn’t close to you.

Do you own the sea turtle you adopt?

The adoption of sea turtles is symbolic as you are not allowed to own sea turtles by law. Your donations will go towards the upkeep of hatchlings or the rehabilitation of rescues.

Many sea turtle adoption programs even allow you to track the sea turtle you adopt. This helps to create a strong bond between you and the turtle you adopt.


Sea turtle adoption may be symbolic but the donations go a long way to impact real change.

You have the chance to contribute to the upkeep of hatchlings and the rehabilitation and care of rescues. You can even adopt a nest and contribute towards the care of that nest.

Some programs such as the Miami-Dade County Sea Turtle Conservation’s Adopt-A-Sea Turtle Nest program allow the conservation to collect important data on nesting activities within the county.

Several adoption programs also allow you to track the chelonian you adopt. With these programs, the reptiles are tagged and their movements are tracked via satellite.

The data collected offer researchers and biologists insight into the behavior and progress of rehabilitated turtles. This is important scientific data.

As a bonus, you can also be granted access to the location data. This creates a bond between you and the turtle you adopted.

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