Posted by: waterworks | March 15, 2008

24. Weird water stories (case of the floating feet)

According to Professor Curtis Ebbesmeyer (Washington), right shoes take a different course from left shoes when lost at sea. Ebbesmeyer’s ideas have an important bearing on the case of  three severed left feet (still wearing trainers) found on beaches near Vancouver Island in recent months.  Canadian police, quite naturally, suspect foul play.  The finding of one left foot may indicate that an unfortunate yet innocent boating accident has   taken place.  Whereas an abundance of left feet appearing in so short a space of time could be suggestive of a more sinister ritualistic or criminal element at work – at least to the oceanographically-untrained eye.  

However, the oceanographically-trained eye of Ebbesmeyer detects a physical system at work here.  He believes that the left feet may simply have detached themselves from decomposing bodies in entirely unconnected boating accidents before floating away (still encased in buoyant training shoes): “Left foot wear and right foot wear often tend to wash up at different times at different places because they float differently. There are beaches that collect mostly rights and other beaches that collect mostly lefts. The winds of the currents sort out left and right foot wear.”  Meanwhile, back at Vancouver Island, the latest word from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is that the case is still regarded as “very unusual”.  The police have recently revealed that two of the feet are size 12.  Secrecy is being maintained over the size of the third.  

Ebbesmeyer’s body of oceanographic work (he is well-regarded for his rubber duck studies) is definitely worth a read.



  1. […] unparalled data set for researchers with an interest in ocean circulation.  Curtis Ebbesmeyer (the severed feet consultant) is one such scientist who has been tracking the ducks.  Their movement has been […]

  2. […] four left feet?  The selective migration of right feet towards Vancouver lends possible support to Prof. Curtis Ebbesmeyer’s theory that left and right footwear – and on occasion the feet in them – float in entirely different […]

  3. […] a cause célèbre (et macabre) in British Columbia over recent months, the new find weakens Prof Ebbesmeyer’s original hypothesisthat we are witnessing a natural phenomenon – namely, the selective migration of left and right […]

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