MACKINAW — There it was, most of it buried in the sand about 20 feet underwater.
"It caught my eye because it was shiny," said 13-year-old Dahlia Bolin of Mackinaw.
The shiny object was a metal sign that was upside down. After Dahlia pulled the sign from the sand, she could see what it read: "Boats Must Not Come Within 100 Yards Of Pier," along with accompanying code references.
The next task for Dahlia was to get the sign out of the water and onto the shore.
"It was a heavy sign. Even heavier because it was underwater," Dahlia said.
Even though Dahlia was scuba diving with her mother, Rebecca Bolin, and their diving friend, John Edmonds, from the South Florida Divers, "I wouldn't let them touch the sign," she said.
Swimming against the Atlantic Ocean current, Dahlia transported the sign from its watery resting place into the sunshine.
Dahlia, Rebecca Bolin and Edmonds were among a Guinness World Record 633 divers who did an underwater cleanup June 15 off the popular Deerfield Beach (Fla.) International Fishing Pier.
Divers went into the ocean in groups over a two-hour period and had to stay in the water for at least 15 minutes to be counted by Guinness World Record adjudicator Michael Empric, who journeyed from New York for the event.
The Florida divers broke the old Guinness World Record of 614 divers, set in 2015 for a cleanup of the Red Sea in Egpyt.
The sign Dahlia found, which was about 100 yards from the pier, was one of the biggest pieces of trash collected by the Florida divers.
"Someone found a small tire," said Rebecca Bolin.
Newspaper reports said the Florida divers also scooped up 3,200 pounds of fishing gear among 9,000 pieces of litter in an effort organized by Deerfield Beach business Dixie Divers and facilitated by Project AWARE, a not-for-profit marine conversation agency, and the Professional Association of Diving Instructors.
Project AWARE personnel cataloged the trash that was collected.
After Empric announced the Guinness World Record, according to a story in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Dixie Divers owner Arlington Pavan sprayed the crowd with champagne.
Lots of folks wanted the sign Dahlia found, but she wasn't about to give it up. It now resides in the Bolin family's Florida home.
"Nobody there (in Deerfield Beach) knew how long the sign had been gone, and I don't know if another sign has been put up in its place," Rebecca Bolin said.
Dahlia and her mother flew home Saturday from Florida to Mackinaw.
After all, Guinness World Record holders do have normal lives.
Dahlia swims for the Morton Otters summer team and is a member of the Peoria Area Water Wizards club swimming team. This fall, she'll be an eighth-grader at Morton Junior High School.
Rebecca Bolin and her husband, Doug Bolin, run Mackinaw-based Bolin Trucking.
Mother and daughter are passionate about scuba diving.
Last year, Rebecca Bolin and Dahlia became part of another Guinness World Record when they were two of 386 scuba divers who formed an underwater human chain off the Deerfield Beach pier.
"We couldn't move for 40 to 45 minutes so we could be counted," Rebecca Bolin said. "Dahlia was 12 years old then and the youngest of the 386 divers."
It was during the human chain event that they met Edmonds.
"John was our group leader," Rebecca Bolin said.
While breaking the Guinness World Record for the cleanup was gratifying, another aspect of the effort meant even more to Rebecca Bolin and her daughter.
"To the naked eye, it appears everything is great when you look out at a body of water," Rebecca Bolin said.
"But there's beautiful life down there, and we're trashing our oceans and lakes. We need to preserve our bodies of water for the next generation. That's our responsibility. We shouldn't be ruining the world we live in."
Dahlia said she was fortunate to be part of the cleanup effort, and she plans to tell her classmates about it when she returns to school.
Steve Stein can be reached at (248) 224-2616 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.