A woman in Honolulu recently found a human hand floating around. She found it twice. It kept coming back. Dueling ukuleles plinked ominously in the distance. Locals were chilled by the discovery, but in reality, sections of human beings actually turn up rather often. There’s a boom market in them in the Salish Sea, off the coats of western Canada and Washington, where ten feet have washed up in the last few years. Authorities do not believe that all ten came from the same person, since such a person would likely have been a superb swimmer. But identities can remain elusive, as well as the cause of death, and even the approximate time of death. Currents can carry a body part a long way, and, according to Wikipedia, “under optimal conditions, a human body may survive in water for as long as three decades,” which is not to say they don’t get a little pruney. Still, detective work does sometimes bear results, as it did when a set of legs, arms and a torso were found last year in the Bahamas. Local sleuths were able to deduce much just from where the items were found; in this case, the stomach of a tiger shark.
Police in Juarez, Mexico have likewise concluded that the severed torso found there recently is probably connected to the severed head and genitals that had already been found nearby, although it seems to me the exact opposite case could be made.
The point is, such things are discovered with some frequency. While we were on a trip to a local wildlife refuge recently, Dave discovered a human foot submerged in shallow water. We examined it as closely as possible, but the deterioration was so advanced that we were left with many mysteries, the foremost of which was how a human foot got attached to a dead otter. It may have huge scientific significance: the human-otter link has been missing for years.
And, among our own circle of friends, Linda, who is terrific at noticing things, also once found a foot while she was walking along Revere Beach, north of Boston. Mystery surrounds this discovery also, but we do know it was found just down from the corner of Guido and We’re-Going-To-Take-A-Little-Ride, and was still in its original concrete casing.
So speculation tends to run rampant in cases like the Honolulu Hand. The homicide department was all over it; John Boehner suggested it was the natural consequence of over-taxation; Harry Reid countered it belonged to a hangnail victim who couldn’t afford medical insurance; and mothers everywhere who had warned that “your hand will fall off if you keep doing that” were vindicated. With all that expertise brought to bear, it’s a wonder they ever consulted a scientist, but nevertheless the hand was eventually revealed to be a dried squid. I’m not surprised: human body parts can easily be mistaken for other things. I myself have body parts that used to resemble melons, and are now more like something in the pita-bread family.
And if I were foolish enough to strip down when I went to the beach GreenPeace activists would have a lovely, lovely day. Sigh.
The toenails on the otter/person missing link are seriously in need of the services of a good chiropodist.
Wonderful post, as always.
"And the knee bone's connected to the shin bone…" Or it used to be. My own anatomy resembles something very different from long ago.
You've dragged up a long buried memory of when I was 10 and thought I saw a leg in the lake I was swimming in. I told my mom, who alerted the authorities, who dragged the lake, 'cause someone from the cities was missing, and, well, nothing was ever found, but I Know I saw a leg. I'm not embarrassed anymore. Thank you.
Maye your friend, Linda, has unwittingly discovered the missing link to the missing Jimmy Hoffa. Boston, cement shoes….
I love when your name pops up on my dashboard. I know it's going to be a good morning. And it is. Thank you.
That first photo illustrates what happens when athletes food goes untreated! 😀
Ya know, my stomach isn't as strong as I thought it was. Thinking of other things now. Lalalalalala!
Maybe I shouldn't have read this entry immediately after watching one of Anthony Bourdain's food expeditions (the one featuring nothing but offal, creatively prepared and presented). You didn't mention any ears…don't a lot of ears go missing? You'd think they would last a long time, being mostly gristle. Maybe they are considered a delicacy for certain underwater gourmets. In any case, I managed to keep from laughing coffee onto the screen 'til I reached your final line. I'll never look at a stuffed pita the same way again.
I've only found a complete body and thank goodness it was in relatively good shape…looked nothing like the photographs you posted. Gaaaagggg.
Should I be worried that I can look at those photos while eating breakfast, without so much as a flutter in my stomach?
I'm trying to imagine you trolling the web for severed body part photos. Whatever inspired this?
NOW THAT is awful! YUK! Put me right back into the work place.
This makes me afraid to take a close look in the birdbath.
Ah, Murr……..just when I think life may no longer be worth living, I come upon yet another of your superlative blogs and your brilliance snatches me back from the edge of the cliff.
After laughing out loud like an idiot for 3 or 4 minutes I realized that I was wrong about life.
"human body parts can easily be mistaken for other things. I myself have body parts that used to resemble melons, and are now more like something in the pita-bread family."
Well, all the expertise was brought to Bear, and Bear still hasn't been able to figure out what happened.
But it is still more than a bit unnerving to discover such things.
Ah this brings back the memory of the leg I once found in a closet. It startled me more than anything. But later as i settled down my grandpa pointed out that it was the limb of my lovely auntie who at the time has lost a real leg to cancer. The one I saw was her replacement. Sadly she never had much use of it as the cancer spread to her lungs. I was at her side when her time came. She was only 28 and I was 10. I can laugh about it now. Thanks.
Sorry, this one's just gross! Yuck!
Murr, you're freaking out people who don't realize the photos of "body parts" are not in fact human body parts! (Maybe you wanna add captions for this one?)
Wonderful post. I had to keep reading in spite of the pictures. Once I got to the shoe being on the otter foot I relaxed. A little slow on the uptake today.
Funny and disgusting. Pictures really, really gross.
I'da been really, really grossed out by this if I hadn't just watched Mitch Daniels endorse Paul Ryan for 2012 on "Meet The Press." I've praised your ability to make political commentary palatable by camouflaging it with humor, but it never occurred to me that you could do it by obscuring the issue with rotting body parts.
This is a major breakthrough in neuro-linguistic programming, a whole new level of political spin. There's just so many places you can go with this meme! Push that metaphor, girl!
Coffee spewed on computer (again). I SHOULD have seen that punch line coming.
…we were left with many mysteries, the foremost of which was how a human foot got attached to a dead otter.
Just evidence of the truth in the ancient Inuit proverb, "Only a fool will kick an otter."
So many feet and no music to dance to! The most macabre blog yet, Murr. Laughed myself sick…Well, actually, first I was sick, then I laughed.
I had no idea y'all were so delicate. Hey, Knittergran, you ONLY found a complete body? Knittergran? Come in, Knittergran!
And Gibbous, I do admit to trolling for pix but the last two are mine. Well they're the same picture, one of them zoomed.
Yea, my melon body parts now resemble deflated balloons…
Yuck. Did you really find a body part?
Eweeeeeew, squid hands.
By the way, the mystery of the severed human feet, inside sneakers no less, washing up on the beach in Canada has been solved.
Strangely enough, Knittergran is not alone. I also found an entire dead body. An elderly gentleman with "health & quality of life issues" had jumped from his balcony on a Saturday night. I came home from a night out with friends and discovered him lying there just off my patio and called the police. I think I was a "suspect" for about 2 whole minutes. Then the coroner came and they were there taking flash photos until 7 AM. NOT one of my favorite memories! Was so thankful when I moved out of that place. Elaine
Hey Murr! You quite worried me for a moment, but I've done a quick check, and I have all my body parts. Tho at 42, some of them don't work as well as they used to. Indigo
My son is always picking his nose and I'm always telling him to get that finger out of it. I have no idea where he finds all these fingers or whose they are. Parts is parts I guess.
In Chicago, the gossip was that the police kept pushing bodies through the water from ward to ward and, I suppose, back to the first one: NIMBY all over again. Goes to show that, yes, bodies do last–too well?–in water.
Oh MUrr, this was pretty gross until I got to the end and then I laughed out loud! I have had that same transformation from Melons to what looks like old wine skins! Oh well. Life goes on until it doesn't!
Update; it's 11 now, another foot washed up in Vancouver yesterday (8/30)….and they were all found wearing running shoes?!?
awaiting further speculation & snark……