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In Canada, Theories Swirl With the Tide as 14th Human Foot Washes Ashore

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A lower left leg and foot found last year on Vancouver’s coast.CreditMike Johns

Nine of the feet have been identified, two of them from the same person, according to the Coroners Service. Most of the feet were men’s. In at least three cases, the shoes were size 12. Not all the remains belonged to Canadians.

In the latest case, Mr. Watson said, investigators would use DNA to try to identify its owner.

Despite the official conclusions, the washed-up feet still grip imaginations because of the murkiness of the discoveries and the likelihood that many of the deaths were not witnessed.

In Canada, Theories Swirl With the Tide as 14th Human Foot Washes Ashore
In Canada, Theories Swirl With the Tide as 14th Human Foot Washes Ashore

The phenomenon has spurred several hoaxes in which pranksters have stuffed animals’ feet into shoes to fool officials. One person used chicken bones.

Mr. Watson noted that the disarticulated feet had most likely separated naturally in the sea, where the footwear had helped preserve them. Because shoes are buoyant and currents are strong, he said, the remains could have washed in from as far north as Alaska.

In 2012, a foot found in a lake in Port Moody, northeast of Vancouver, was linked to a man whose boat had overturned while he was fishing in the area 25 years earlier.

In December last year, a Rottweiler discovered a lower left leg and foot with a white ankle sock in a black running shoe on Vancouver’s coast. A few months later, using DNA technology, investigators matched the remains to a 79-year-old Washington State man. Still, even then, questions remained. The man’s family told the police he had vanished months before after leaving home without his medication.

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