TikTok doctor explains why feet are washing up on beaches

·2-min read

A doctor has put an end to speculation and explained why so many detached human feet stuffed in sneakers have washed ashore in the US and Canada.

Since 2007, more than 20 detached human feet have washed ashore along the coast between the Salish Sea in British Columbia in Canada and the US state of Washington, according to the UK's Mirror.

"These feet have been found completely unattached to the humans, and almost always in sneakers," Dr Karan Raj explained in a TikTok video.

There's an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to the discoveries of feet found washed up in the area and while all the deaths are tragic, the reason behind why feet keep washing is less sinister.

A red circle indicates where the Salish Sea, which spans from Canada to the US, is located on a Google Maps image.
The Salish Sea is a large inland body of water, spanning from the US to Canada. Source: Google Maps

While one might be inclined to think the detached feet has something to do with a serial killer with a foot fetish or something, Dr Raj explains it's actually to do with the sneaker industry.

"When a human corpse sink to the bottom of the ocean it's quickly set upon by scavengers, these scavengers are lazy feeders, they prefer to tackle the softer parts of our body than the tough grizzly bits," the doctor explained.

He went on to explain some of the softest parts of the human body are the ligaments and soft tissue around the ankles, so when scavengers feed on this area, the foot quickly detaches from the rest of the body.

"The reason it happened more since 2007 is because of a change in sneaker design over the last few decades shoes become more buoyant," he explained.

A three-way split of Dr Karan Raj's TikTok video explaining why detached feet with sneakers on keep washing up on a shoreline.
Dr Karan Raj explained on TikTok why detached feet with sneakers keep washing up. Source: TikTok/dr.karanr
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The buoyancy of sneakers makes sense as to why feet are washing up on the shore, but it doesn't answer why they end up washed up along the coast of the Salish Sea.

Speaking to National Geographic earlier this year about the feet in the area, oceanography professor Parker MacCready's LiveOcean, a simulation of the Pacific Northwest includes the Salish Sea, provided some answers.

Being an inland sea, the Salish Sea is "unusually large and complex".

Prof MacCready's model shows once something goes into the water, it could wash ashore in plenty of places, but being an inland body of water, it will still be within the Salish Sea.

He also pointed out people hiking in the area, along the rocks, would opt for sneakers.

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