As promised, I'm going with something a little less violent and gory.... But this is still a bit gross. Feet have been appearing on the shores of the Pacific Northwest since 2007. Not bodies. Not any other extremities. Feet. Still in the shoes.
No one has any solid answers on how the feet are connected, or if they even should be in the first place. A lot of people see the Salish Sea Feet phenomena as a product of the media. But we'll get to that later.
Warnings for dismembered limbs (or really, just feet) and suicide mentions. This is a downright light one!
The First Foot.
Jedediah Island, British Columbia. A woman visiting from Washington State found a shoe on the shore. She picked it up, opening up the sock that was surprisingly still inside. She thought she might find a crab, or some other form of sea life inhabiting the abandoned Adidas. Instead, she found a size 12 right foot, belonging to a man. The local press took noticed. A dismembered body part was an odd find, especially a foot still in the shoe and sock. But then, a second foot from a different person, based on DNA, was found just six days later. And then the rest of the media took notice.
After those first two, there seemed to be fairly consistent discoveries of feet for a few years. Below, I've included a handy-dandy graphic so you can get a good idea of where and how often these feet were appearing.
Foul Play with Feet?
And while the feet themselves were interesting finds, especially when there were two instances of feet being matched to a previous discovery, people wanted to know why.
Was it a strange serial killer, shooting for a particular trademark? A mafia hit or warning? Hannibal Lecter not finishing a meal?
According to police, none of the above.
“There’s no evidence,” Vancouver City Coroner Stephen Fonseca told The Daily Beast ... “of mechanical disarticulation.”
Mechanical disarticulation is, of course, someone sawing the feet off. What they're saying is the feet wore away at the joint to detach from the body.
The Washington Post cited a study that had evidence that the hands and feet were the first to fall away when a body was in the water.
...A body floating in water is “subjected to the push and pull of its environment,” the bones of hands and feet are almost always the first to fall off.
Through DNA, the police have been able to link some of the feet to people who have disappeared, many of which suffered from mental illness, leading them to suspect that the feet may come from people who had committed suicide off of the many bridges in the area or from mentally ill people who had gotten into an accident where they were knocked unconscious and fell into the water.
Unfortunately, nearly 4,000 people committed suicide in Canada in 2009 and nearly 30,000 Americans commit suicide each year. However, there aren't feet appearing at this high of a rate. Of course, not everyone would die in or by water, but it's still odd why these feet are accumulating here for these tight groups of time. It starts in 2007, and drops off around 2012, getting more spread out towards the end. Another foot was found in 2016, which prompted a new round of articles on this phenomena, suggesting a reason for why these feet may be appearing.
"Vicious Cycle Theory"
Plenty of people like to blame the media for a lot of things. But for this one, they may just be at fault. While experts note that the current patterns would bring feet into the area, but maybe not the bodies, there's something bigger to this pattern of feet.
The Daily Beast explains the "Vicious Cycle Theory:"
Each time a new one gets discovered, that fuels more media attention, getting the general public that much more riled up and vigiliant about missing feet, thereby turning what otherwise might be placid walks on the beach into scavenger hunts. Time was, you saw a shoe floating in the surf, you wouldn’t give it a second glance. But now that British Columbia has become famous for floating feet, people are too curious not to check it out.
I guess here is the part where I admit I'm contributing to the cycle. I'm still going to place this one in the "mystery" category, because we don't have definite answers, I think the idea of the media making people aware of these feet then makes them want to go out and find feet is the best idea. There are some other theories that they may be related to the tsunami in Sri Lanka in 2004, as they mention in Thinking Sideways, where I first heard about this. But there being so many local connections, I find that doubtful. That's why I'm not including the feet found past 2012 in my graphic. It seems to just be the media making the cycle resurface.
While these feet may not be part of a strange, larger conspiracy, that doesn't mean that people can't make up one for fiction—which also probably doesn't help the vicious cycle. It has appeared in TANIS, which I've mentioned before on here, and has inspired an episode of Bones.
So, finding a foot may be the grossest form of confirmation bias, but, if you're in the Pacific Northwest and you find one, you can't help that it probably is.