The Spectacular Sight Of Train Carriages Being Dumped Into The Ocean

The Spectacular Sight of Subway Cars Being Dumped Into the Ocean

Of all the things you'd expect to find at the bottom of the ocean, a small village of old New York train carriages may not cross your mind. But for over a decade, train carriages have been discarded into the Atlantic in an environmental effort to create artificial reef habitats for fostering sea life. Photographer Stephen Mallon was lucky enough to witness and document the spectacle over a three year period.

The Spectacular Sight of Subway Cars Being Dumped Into the Ocean

His series, Next Stop, Atlantic, is sure to surprise viewers, especially New Yorkers whose beloved (despised?) train carriages are so instantly recognisable. Taken out of their usual context of dark, dank underground tunnels, the carriages are visually arresting when seen stacked upon a barge and dumped into the ocean like stones.

Pictures: Stephen Mallon and Front Room Gallery

The Spectacular Sight of Subway Cars Being Dumped Into the Ocean
The Spectacular Sight of Subway Cars Being Dumped Into the Ocean

The first thing most people think when seeing Mallon's photos is that this is an act of pollution. But the ongoing effort is quite the opposite. The stripped metal frames of the cars serve as breeding grounds for marine organisms that attach themselves to hard surfaces. The newly spawned life creates food for other sea dwelling animals, fostering a healthier habitat overall.

The Spectacular Sight of Subway Cars Being Dumped Into the Ocean
The Spectacular Sight of Subway Cars Being Dumped Into the Ocean

It is a remarkable irony, and one that puts your brain in knots while look at these hulking pieces of man-made garbage careening into the ocean. And of course, they are captured by Mallon beautifully, with the weight of the steel cars and churning of the sea really coming across.

The Spectacular Sight of Subway Cars Being Dumped Into the Ocean
The Spectacular Sight of Subway Cars Being Dumped Into the Ocean
The Spectacular Sight of Subway Cars Being Dumped Into the Ocean
The Spectacular Sight of Subway Cars Being Dumped Into the Ocean

Mallon's images are still being exhibited years after the series was completed. Currently they are a part of the exhibition Patterns of Interest at NYU's Kimmel Galleries on view from February 6 through to March 15. You can also check out more of Mallon's incredible work on his website.


Comments

    what do you do for a living? I dump trains into the ocean

      ... To make artificial reefs to help improve fish populations.

    I'm amazed Melbourne didn't buy them. They sold a lot of old trains for next to nothing and then realized they couldn't afford enough new ones and bought the old ones back at highly inflated prices. The bloke that bought the old trains made a killing. Government spending at its best.

    And now for some local content.
    Darwin (NT AUS) has several Articial reefs with very interesting names.
    The Bus Stop, The Bottlewasher and Truck Tipper Reef.
    http://www.nt.gov.au/d/Fisheries/recreational/artificial_reefs.shtml

      Info on them and other can be found here:
      http://www.nt.gov.au/d/Fisheries/recreational/artificial_reefs.shtml

    id like to know what sort of heavy metals get leached into the ocean and subsequent sea life due to this. you know, seeing people catch and eat fish. and we already know about mercury levels in fish like salmon and tuna.

      Any object intended for use as an artificial reef is stripped of dangerous materials before it's used. This has been the case for decades, with old warships in particular going through the same cleaning process before being sunk.

        how interesting. thanks.
        but surely they cant strip some of the heavy metals that are part of some of the alloys in the main panels and that would eventually leach due to the salt water and rust etc etc?

        What kind of heavy metals get leached into the ocean? Seeing as water flows down hill into the ocean, anything that is on land has the potential to contaminate the ocean. My science teacher in high school always said that the ocean had incredible levels of metal in the water. It's something that has occurred throughout the history of the planet (metals leaching) so the ocean has some sort of coping mechanism, or there's just so much water it doesn't matter.

          TUALMASOK and @skinja

          I don't know specifically which materials are removed, I just know there's a process for stripping down and cleaning objects before they're used for artificial reefs. Presumably whatever is left is considered environmentally safe, or at least above a certain safety threshold. The benefits of artificial reefs seem to be well documented, so I assume they're doing something right.

    So we dump more and more into our oceans, and then wonder why the sea levels are rising.

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