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Home New York's Old Subway Cars Are Dumped into the Atlantic Ocean

Submitted by Scuba World news on Thu, 08/18/2016 - 17:23
Hydraulic lift drops the NYC cars to the bottom of the Atlantic

Next stop, the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean!

The bottom of the Atlantic Ocean is surely one of the last places expecting to spot a subway car. At first this act sounds like a huge environment crime, but there is also another plan than just getting rid of the retired subway cars. Old New York subway cars are given a new life and used to create an artificial reef on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

Before the final destination, subway cars have went through a careful process which photographer Stephen Mallon followed over three years. First the carriages were cleaned and all the possible parts for example seats and wheels were removed, recycled or sold to be reused. After that those were stacked onto a barge and transferred to the open sea between Delaware and South Carolina, to be sunk to their final resting place.

The purpose of this project have been to use the old subway cars to form a long artificial reef which offers a good and safe living environment for many species. Artificial reef project took over ten years to finish and it was run by New York's Metropolitan transit authority (MTA).  It ended in 2010 and before that all together over 2500 subway cars were sunk! Jeffrey Tinsman, artificial reef program manager tells that carriages are holding up well and those are providing a shelter and a good hard surface to live on for example fish and blue mussels. Tinsman told also that the amount of food available per square foot is 400 times more than compared to the sand bottom where the artificial subway car reef is located.

Here's some pictures taken by Stephen Mallon from different phases of the project.

Cleaned subway cars waiting for the final trip
Subway car shells waiting for their final trip.
Carriages waiting for their final plunge to the Atlantic
Retired NYC subway cars are waiting for transfer to their final resting place, the sandy bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.
Subway cars piled on a barge and carried out to open sea
Subway cars piled on a barge and carried out to the open sea
Custom barge carrying the decommissioned subway cars
Custom barge carrying the decommissioned subway cars
From underground to underwater.
From underground to underwater.
Next stop ocean floor - mind the gap
Next stop ocean floor, mind the gap!

This sanctuary of retired subway cars would surely be a unique diving location. It would be also interesting to dive the site during a time span of many years and follow how the artificial reef is developing and how the life around it will start to flourish. Maybe some dive centers are already arranging dive trips to these sites...

Here's some images found from the Viral Forest article where you can see the differences after five and ten years.

Artificial coral reef after five years
Inside the subway car: artificial coral reef after five years. Photo from Viral Forest article.
Artificial coral reef after ten years
Artificial coral reef after ten years? Looks already very colorful. Photo from Viral Forest article.

Sources: CNNStephen MallonViral Forest
Images: Stephen Mallon, unless otherwise mentioned.