New Netflix series dives into the mystery of feet washing up on B.C. shores

New Netflix series dives into the mystery of feet washing up on B.C. shores

A series of cases involving feet washing up on B.C. shores is in the limelight again following the release of a new documentary-style TV show now streaming on a major platform.

“They call them severed feet in many newspaper articles,” said Skye Borgman, who directed the new eight-part docuseries “Files of the Unexplained” released to Netflix on April 3.

Unusual stories intrigue her, so she helped helm the series, which explores the local phenomenon in its eighth episode. In past years, the foot findings have made international headlines.

“I kinda think my motto is believe anything and question everything. And so I think that kind of folds into these types (of stories),” said Borgman in an interview Sunday.

“I’m always curious about them.”

Since August 2007, more than a dozen feet have washed ashore in B.C., including at Port Renfrew’s Botanical Beach, where a matching left and right pair turned up in February 2016.

Another foot was found near Jordan River in December 2017 before one was spotted at Victoria’s Gonzales Beach last July. At the time, a spokesperson for the BC Coroners Service said it was the first time an investigation of this kind had taken place since 2021.

‘Nobody’s washing up with a stiletto’

But what tied them all together was the type of shoe the feet were found inside of — a running shoe.

“You’ll notice nobody’s washing up with a stiletto or a flip-flop or anything like that,” said Gail Anderson, a criminology professor at Simon Fraser University who’s featured in the series.

“But if you get a sock and a floatation device, a running shoe.”

As a body decomposes in water, running shoes actually help preserve the feet, she explains.

“The things are full of air to be cushioned, to be comfortable. Throw a pair of running shoes into the water, they will float,” said Anderson. “That’s why we find so many on beaches.”

So she’s debunking rumours.

“Everybody keeps saying they were severed feet, which means they were cut. They were not cut, they naturally just disarticulated,” she said.

“After we spoke with experts, they said clearly they’re not severed, they’re disarticulated feet,” added Borgman.

Feet have also been found washed ashore south of the border in Washington state.

No foul play, says coroner

The Coroners Service says that as of October 2021, 15 feet found in B.C. between 2007 and 2018 had been identified — all belonging to people who went missing, some several years prior.

Foul play was ruled out in all cases.

“Why would someone cut feet off? Is this somebody with a foot fetish or not a foot fetish, or sea monsters biting feet off? No…There is no evidence of any kind of cut marks. These were very carefully examined by forensic pathologists. It’s natural disarticulation,” said Anderson.

“It’s very sad, but it’s not a big mystery.”

But it’s worthy of more screen time — and something Canadian viewers seem eager to learn about, as the new series climbed to number one on Netflix’s most-watched TV shows list.

“It’s really exciting. It’s gotten such a positive response. This is my first anthology series where we do a series of different stories,” added Borgman.

“I’m so excited for it.”

CHEK News reached out to the Coroners Service for an update on the foot found in Victoria last summer but did not hear back.

This map, last updated in October 2021, pinpoints where the 15 feet were found:

Map: BC Coroners Service

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!