“Mommy, where do subway cars go when they die?”
Well kids, I have some news for you: they get plonked in the ocean.
Between 2008 and 2010 photographer Stephen Mallon artfully captured the final journey of dozens of retired subway as they are hoisted from a barge into the Atlantic Ocean. The cars bubble their way to the seabed where they will become a human-made reef for ocean life.
Dumping subway and train cars into the ocean is pretty common practice.
In 2008, 44 subway cars weighing 18 tons each were dumped about 20 miles off the Maryland coast, according to news agency Reuters. At the time, 1,662 retired subway cars were headed to create reefs in the to the Atlantic Ocean across numerous states.
The artificial reefs attract fish that can find sanctuary in the subway cars away from predators. Jeff Tinsman, a reef program coordinators, told Reuters that an established artificial of 600 subway cars off the coast of Delaware had bolstered the surrounding fish population by 400 times.
While subway cars are stripped of hazardous materials such as petroleum lubricants and PCBs before their trip to the ocean, some environmentalist are concerned that fish are still absorbing the toxins, according to the Washington Post.
For some eerie pics on what a subway car reef looks like check out NJ Scuba.
The image “Don't do this” from Next Stop Atlantic will be featured along with other work by Stephen Mallon in the solo exhibition “Patterns of Interest” at NYU’s Kimmel Galleries from Feb. 6 to March 15.