Canadian officials are investigating after a human foot washed up on the shores of British Columbia – marking the 13th time in the past decade that tides have carried a sneaker-clad foot on to its coastline, Hindustantimes reported.
The grisly find was made earlier this month by Mike Johns as he walked his dog along the scenic southern coast of Vancouver Island. After a large object tangled in sea kelp captured the dog’s attention, Johns leaned in for a closer look.
What he saw was a fibula and tibia attached to a left foot, all of it encased in a white sock and black Velcro shoe. “By the looks of it, the foot was totally intact. The ankle bone still worked and the bones were attached at the base of the knee,” Johns told CTV News.
After calling police, Johns carried the foot home for safekeeping, worried that high tides might wash the foot back into the ocean or that it would attract the attention of wildlife in the area.
The find was the latest in a series that has sparked speculation around the world . Since 2007, another dozen feet have washed up in British Columbia, each of them clad in running shoes.
Some point to natural disasters, such as the 2004 tsunami, or plane or boat accidents at sea. Others theorise that the feet might be the work of a serial killer or organised crime.
At times pranksters have also sought to add fuel to the fire. “We’ve had people put dog foot skeletons in runners and leave them on the beach,” Barb McLintock of the BC coroner’s office told the Guardian the last time a foot washed up in February 2016. “And somebody even used old chicken bones.”
In the past dozen cases, the provincial coroner’s office has ruled out foul play, noting that none of the feet showed signs of trauma. They have identified eight of the feet, saying they included two pairs, and determined that the remaining lone feet belonged to men.
All of the individuals either committed suicide or died accidentally, with their feet naturally coming apart from their bodies during decomposition, said the coroner.
The ubiquitous presence of running shoes might explain some of the mystery; made with light but durable materials, the shoes both protect the foot from decomposition and act as a flotation device that pulls it to the surface.
In the latest case, authorities are now attempting to identify the foot and a cause of death. Police are scouring databases to see if there are any matches with missing persons cases and have said that foul play is not suspected at this point.
The investigation is in its early stages and could eventually be broadened, said Andy Watson of the BC Coroner’s office. “It may even include working with agencies south of the border, because with the tides and the coastline this could have come from another jurisdiction too.”
Watson said he wasn’t sure why the number of feet found in British Columbia had climbed into double digits in recent years. “I don’t really have a succinct reason as to why that is,” he said. “You know, you look at the sheer nature of the geography and how big the coastline is.”