Fish, Fisheries and Queryomics
Four or five years ago, or so, a number of spas in the USA began offering fish pedicure treatments. These treatments, imported from the Middle East, use a small minnow called the doctor fish Garra rufa to remove dead skin from the feet.
The doctor fish naturally feeds on aufwuchs a fancy biological term, derived from German, that means growing upon. Aufwuchs is the slimey algal encrustation one sees on rocks in lakes and streams. So, these small minnows are adapted to picking at odd pieces of organic matter and feeding on it. Okay, Beel gets it too. Its a living.
Enter the human foot. Generally not covered with algae, although Beel has known a few persons so lacking in personal hygiene as to make one wonder. Anyway, if the doctor fish are not provided with natural foods they will become hungry and eat that which is available. That’s fish for you. In this case, the doctor fish will pick at dead skin on the foot and act as a natural exfoliating agent. Lovely, as Beel’s British friends would say.
The doctor fish has no teeth, so this process is painless, and would tickle more than anything else (Beel has been set upon by other species of minnows in like manner- an occupational hazard of fish biologists).
A recent article in the British newspaper, the Daily Telegraph has reported that: Fish pedicures catch on fast. This is a bit interesting, beyond the fish biology aspect, as fish pedicures have come and gone in the USA. See for example, the 2008 USA Today article, Fish pedicures make a splash. Why did the fad die in the USA? There are those who think that fish pedicures will spread disease. No, really: “People with weak immune systems or underlying medical conditions are at increased risk of infection from controversial fish pedicures, experts have warned.”
In the USA, fish pedicures are illegal in 14 states. TV journalist John Stossel ridiculed these laws, arguing they represent a case of the government becoming a “Nanny State.” Beel thinks Stossel is a total tool, but agrees with him on this one.
Beel says, get real. In some countries, including the USA, in some counties in Nevada, sex workers are regulated and certified as disease free. Is this too much to ask of the fish?
Back to the British discovering their feet. In the USA, years ago, this was done, debated, regulated, etc. So what is up with this sudden fascination with foot pedicures in Great Britian?
Is it related to the recent royal wedding? To the recent discovery of lots of funky feet in London? What?
Beel just doesn’t know. So, Beel used Google Insights for Search to look at search volume for “fish pedicure.” Here is what Beel learned (click on the image for a larger, clear, more poignant view):
Fish pedicures first hit the radar in the USA in 2008 (see the USA Today article referenced above). After a brief period of infatuation, search volume in the USA fell off. In contrast, the Brits first became interested in fish pedicure in 2011, but in a big, big way. Really, though, the increase in search volume in Great Britian started picking up in 2010, reached peak ferver in 2011, then began to decline.
Here’s what Beel speculates. In preparation for the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, someone, somewhere, got word that open-toed shoes were involved. The British, being very proper, became obsessed with foot care and called in the doctor (fish).
Beel doesn’t make this stuff up. Beel’s reporting is fair and balanced. Do you have a better explanation?