But never did the retired Grand Haven Public Schools music teacher imagine the sight that greeted her near her seasonal home in Cape San Blas, Fla., this month. Hundreds of turtles in St. Joseph Bay, east of Panama City, had been rendered nearly motionless by record-cold temperatures that plagued much of the southeastern U.S.
“They looked dead,” said Ahlstedt, who splits her time between North Muskegon and Cape San Blas. “The turtles were just stunned.”
So Ahlstedt, 62, went to work. She hopped in her canoe and set out into the bay, and with dozens of volunteers, helped bring more than 100 turtles to safety in a period of five days.
Because they’re cold-blooded, turtles become immobilized when temperatures dip below a certain point. A total of nearly 1,800 turtles were collected during the five-day period, thanks to the help of scores of volunteers and state wildlife workers, Ahlstedt said. Four hundred and fifty of those died.
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