Why have 2,500 New York subway cars been dumped in the sea?

At first sight it looks like a waste of money, a major act of pollution and a criminal act – but these New York subway cars being dumped into the sea are actually helping the environment. These truly remarkable photos detail just a small number of over 2,500 old subway cars from the Big Apple that have been used to create artificial underwater reefs on America’s Atlantic coast. Photographer Stephen Mallon of the Front Room Gallery snapped the images over a period of three years, and the photos are now are being shown in an exhibition in New York.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) of New York has been running this project for over 10 years, and ensures that on being decommissioned, the cars are cleaned, and every part which can be removed (seats, straps, windows, doors, wheels) are either recycled or sold. They are then loaded onto barges and dumped into sea to form artificial reefs. Click read more for some truly fantastic photographs…

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An estimated 95 per-cent of the seabed off the US eastern seaboard is bare sand, a relatively inhospitable home for fish and crustaceans. But reefs provide protection from predators and so are attractive to fish, which inturns help build an eco-system with mussels, shrimps and crabs and eventually marlin and dolphins. And in addition to the envoronmental benefits, US corals are estimated to boost the economy by $200 million (£131 million) per year. The depositing of man-made structures to become artifical reefs is not uncommon, with tanks, armoured personnel carriers, oil rigs and even an aircraft carrier, the USS Oriskany being used.

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