The Unexplained: When the flotsam an jetsam are feet

What’s going in the calm, beautiful, but mysterious waters of the Salish Sea? Photo: The Sierra Club, Washington State

A wave of panic struck when people started realizing that feet washing up on the beach was not exactly a rare event.

It is not hard to imagine the horror on the face of a person that has discovered one of the odd prizes that has washed up on the coastline of the Salish Sea.  August, 2007 was when the first prize was recorded.

Where is this stretch of coastline and what are these odd prizes?

The coast of the Salish Sea stretches from British Columbia in Canada down to Washington state in the U.S.  The unusual bits of flotsam are human feet, still in their shoes, usually sports shoes.

Sara Marie Hogg

Twenty-one feet have washed up since 2007.  What could it be – results of a plane crash?  A tsunami?

The most recent foot was discovered in January of 2019 at Jetty Island in Everett, Washington.  It was a foot in a boot that DNA tied to Antonio Neill.  He had been missing since December of 2016.  The rest of him must be out there somewhere.

The first discovered foot was in a sock inside a size twelve Adidas.  This style of shoe was marketed mainly in India and the foot was identified as a man who suffered from depression and was missing.

When people started realizing that feet-on-the-beach was not exactly a rare event, a wave of panic spread through those making the connection.  It had to be the work of a serial killer.  That general area had been the hunting ground of several known serial killers in the past.

The feet and shoes were all carefully examined and the medical examiners involved emphasized there was no need for alarm.  There was no foul play connected to the feet.  They came loose from he bodies naturally during decomposition.

That is all well and good, but who’s to say that someone was not disposing of bodies in the general area.  The feet were evidence of bodies in the deep, even if the feet had not been detached mechanically by a human being.

That comes to 21 bodies in 15 years.  That could be a normal body count for missing persons for that length of time–one and a third body per year, not that shocking for an area with large cities.  There was Seattle and Tacoma, and heavy port traffic.

What is odd is that just feet, and only feet, washed up.

There is a map of all the foot discoveries and the dates they were discovered.  In British Columbia, thirteen of the feet have been identified and at least three in the U.S. have been identified.  Those identified are thought to be victims of suicide or accidents.

A doctor on TikTok has come forward to explain that the reason it is feet that wash up, is that athletic shoes are good floaters and they are usually good at keeping contents intact.  Karan Raj, a surgeon with NHS in the U.K., stresses that the sports shoes have become increasingly buoyant in recent years.

There was one much earlier find: a leg in a boot was discovered on Vancouver Beach in 1887.  This location is now called Leg-in-Boot Square.

Another leg in a boot washed up in 1914.  This was near the mouth if the Salmon River, now the Dean River, on the beach.

There is still plenty of mystery to ponder in regard to the feet.  A bunch of feet, starting 2007, washed up in a specific area.  Our country has hundreds of miles of coastline.  The coastline has capes, inlets, and jetties and odd currents galore.  There are other countries with similar coastline quirks.

Why, oh why, are feet only washing up in the Salish Sea, if feet in sports shoes have a tendency to rise up and float toward land?

Please click HERE to find Sara Marie Hogg’s historical mystery, It Rises from the Pee Dee, on Amazon.

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