Marine hydrokinetic turbines typically operate in harsh, strongly dynamic conditions. All components of the turbine system must be extremely robust and able to withstand large and constantly varying loads; the long and relatively slender blades of marine turbines are especially vulnerable. Because of this, modern marine turbine blades are increasingly constructed from fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) composites. Composite materials provide superior strength- and stiffness-to-weight ratios and improved fatigue and corrosion resistance compared to traditional metallic alloys. Additionally, it is possible to tailor the anisotropic properties of FRP composites to create an adaptive pitch mechanism that will adjust the load on the turbine in order to improve system performance, especially in off-design or varying flow conditions. In this work, qualitative fundamentals of composite structures are discussed with regards to the design of experimental scale adaptive pitch blades. The load-deformation relationship of flume-scale adaptive composite blades are characterized experimentally under static loading conditions, and dynamic loading profiles during flume testing are reported. Two sets of adaptive composite blades are compared to neutral pitch composite and rigid aluminum designs. Experimental results show significant load adjustments induced through passive pitch adaptation, suggesting that adaptive pitch composite blades could be a valuable addition to marine hydrokinetic turbine technology.