View of the Strait of Georgia, in British Columbia, Canada.
Canadian authorities have been mystified by the discovery of disembodied human feet washing up on the shores of British Columbian beaches.
Over the past 10 months, five feet have been found on shorelines along the Strait of Georgia, southwest of Vancouver.
A sixth foot was found on Wednesday, but authorities determined it was an animal's paw stuffed into a tennis shoe and now believe it to be a hoax.
But they have no explanation for the five other feet, only theories. Four of the feet are right feet. The fifth is a left foot.
Oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer thinks it's most likely that the feet came from the same area. "Drifting objects usually wash up closest to where they were put in the water," he says.
Ebbesmeyer, who is a specialist on ocean currents, says he thinks the feet might have originated in the northern end of the Strait of Georgia or perhaps washed down the Fraser River, which runs through Vancouver.
The feet appear to have become detached, or disarticulated as it is called, without any detectable force, Ebbesmeyer says. But police are still investigating the discoveries as crimes.
There are more than 2,000 people missing in British Columbia alone, says Ebbesmeyer, so there's a good likelihood that they come from one of them. So far, there have been no reported DNA matches.
Ebbesmeyer, who runs a Web site called Beachcomber's Alert, says that it's not at all uncommon to find body parts on shorelines. He's found jawbones and even full skeletons. But, he says, finding five feet in such relatively close proximity is baffling.
"It's possible that they all washed down the Frasier River and some got hung up at the mouth and some got dispersed," he says. "We really don't know."