A health monitoring approach is investigated for hydrokinetic turbine blade applications. In-service monitoring is critical due to the difficult environment for blade inspection and the cost of inspection downtime. Composite blade designs have advantages that include long life in marine environments and great control over mechanical properties. Experimental strain characteristics are determined for static loads and free-vibration loads. These experiments are designed to simulate the dynamic characteristics of hydrokinetic turbine blades. Carbon/epoxy symmetric composite laminates are manufactured using an autoclave process. Four-layer composite beams, eight-layer composite beams, and two-dimensional eight-layer composite blades are instrumented for strain. Experimental results for strain measurements from electrical resistance gages are validated with theoretical characteristics obtained from in-house finite-element analysis for all sample cases. These preliminary tests on the composite samples show good correlation between experimental and finite-element strain results. A health monitoring system is proposed in which damage to a composite structure, e.g. delamination and fiber breakage, causes changes in the strain signature behavior. The system is based on embedded strain sensors and embedded motes in which strain information is demodulated for wireless transmission.