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28th Apr 2021

The mystery of why human feet keep washing ashore in the US has been solved

Charlie Herbert

The grim phenomena has been going on since 2007

Since August 2007, a disturbing number of feet have been washing up on the coasts of British Columbia. After the first two were found, over 21 feet have washed up on the area of coast line, usually still in their shoes.

But it seems like an answer has been found for why this may be happening, and it’s got a lot to do with the design and technology of modern footwear.

There has been speculation around whether it has been the mafia disposing of bodies or whether it was the work of a serial killer. However the reality doesn’t appear to be anywhere near as sinister as that.

It’s mainly down to trainers being better at floating nowadays than they were a few years ago.

Barb McLintock from the BC Coroners Service spoke to the National Post about the mystery when more feet washed up in 2016.

McLintock said: “We pretty well think we know what happened in every case.

“There’s none that have any suggestion of homicide […] in every case there is an alternate, very reasonable explanation.”

And here it is: when a body is out at sea, maybe because of an accident or a suicide, it sink to the bottom of the ocean and begins to be eaten by scavenger creatures. Creatures like crustaceans will eat the softer fleshy body parts (nice), which on humans includes the ankles.

As these are chewed away at, the foot becomes detached from the leg.

And it’s because of modern shoe design that they feet have only started washing up in the last 15 years. Over recent years trainers and shoes have been made of lighter foam and included more air pockets in the soles, meaning that nowadays they float instead of sinking to the ocean floor.

“It really didn’t come up until we had running shoes that floated so well,” McLintock said. “Before, they just stayed down there at the bottom of the ocean.”