Cold water doesn't bother Two Harbors resident Eli Higgins, 14.
"I've always been like that," he said. "It just doesn't bother me. I can dive down to the bottom of Lake Superior and not get cold."
Eli spent last summer putting that particular quirk to work by diving down deep to clean up trash along the shore of Lake Superior in Burlington Bay. He works for Harbor Kayak and Paddleboard Rental with his mother, Christie Higgins, and spends many days along the lake searching for items to retrieve.
It all started one day last July when a customer returned a stand up paddleboard and remarked how she loved being able to see the lake bottom through the clear water, but hated one part of the view.
"Because it's so clear, she can see all of the trash that gets pushed to the shore," Eli said. "So my mom said, 'Eli, you should start doing that.' So the next day, I went out with a paddleboard and started diving for stuff. We picked up a lot."
Eli would work with his brother, Jacob Samuel, 13 and his girlfriend to find the trash. His partners would find the items and pick them up if they could, but if the piece was too deep, they'd call in Eli for a retrieval.
Through the rest of the summer, the trio combed the shores for trash and stored it in the Higgins' garage. At the end of the summer, they pulled it all out for a photo.
"I think the weirdest thing we found was definitely the baby doll's foot," Eli said. "We were all a little freaked out by that."
Some of the other items gathered by Eli and crew included sections of barbed wire, metal rebar, half a bicycle, a small motor, fish hooks, sign posts, a tire and miscellaneous cups and bottles.
"I remember on that first day, he pulled out this cable that's 5 feet long," Christie Higgins said. "After that, he got obsessed with it and started doing it every day just to see what they could find."
Eli plans to dive again this summer, but he hasn't been out yet despite his insistence that he can handle the cold.
"I want to get out as soon as I can because with all these storms this spring, I think there will be a lot of stuff washed up," Eli said. "Mom said it was too cold to start, but I think it's time."