Here’s What the MTA Does When They Find a Dead Shark in the Subway: Toss It, Crack Jokes


There were a number of possible responses to yesterday’s news that a small dead shark was found in the subway: sadness (dead animal); puzzlement (dead aquatic animal?); and, for the germaphobes among us, extreme, immediate, misplaced panic (Jesus Christ, have I been sitting in shark juice)? But the hard cases at the MTA, who’ve seen a lot of weird shit in their time, had a more blasé reaction: pitch the shark in the trash, swab out the train, crack weird jokes to damn near every blog in town. Why not? There’s a goddamn dead shark on the train. The Apocalypse is clearly upon us.

The shark was spotted early yesterday morning on a Queens-bound M train; the MTA told Gothamist that the conductor of the train called in to report it to the the control center around 12:30 a.m. Everybody was moved out of the car at Queensboro Plaza; when the train got to the end of the line, a supervisor got rid of the shark, an inspector made sure the car was clean, and just like that, the Macabre Subway Car of the Damned Sea Life was returned to service, masquerading as a normal train car. (But not before some dude managed to snap some photos of the shark with a cigarette, a Red Bull, and a Metro Card which–actually, no. No jokes. Shame on you, dude. For real. Nobody let this man anywhere near their fish tank.)

Gothamist asked the MTA how one goes about disposing of a dead shark. A spokesperson–who we have to assume is Adam Lisberg, the same guy we talk to and the former editor of City & State–replied:

Live sharks are wrangled by Shark Maintainer IIs, who have passed the qualification test and have minimum three years in the Shark Maintainer I title. Dead ones are handled by Shark Maintainer Is, or if none are available on that shift, then by Aquatic Mammal Handler IIs.

Good one, Lisberg. Real good. Way better than another MTA spokesperson, Kevin Ortiz, who told Huffington Post, “Looks like a good promo for Shark Week on the Discovery Channel.” We all know where Shark Week is. DON’T TOY WITH US, ORTIZ. (The Discovery Channel promptly denied they had anything to do with it, telling Buzzfeed, “Shark Week is all about conservation, so it deeply saddens us that someone would think that this was funny or in any way connected to our celebration of sharks.”)

Because this story absolutely hasn’t been covered enough, we e-mailed Lisberg with three follow-up questions: Any leads on the origin of the shark? Was he given a burial at sea? Weirdest thing every found on the subway? (Has to be, right?)

“No leads,” Lisberg replied. As for the shark’s final resting place, he didn’t mince words: “Buried in a trash bag with the rest of the trash.” Which, we’d have to say, is a damn shame, and a nasty surprise for the guy who takes out the garbage over there. As for the comparative weirdness of a shark on the train, Llisberg added, “Who’s to say what’s the weirdest thing ever on the subway? To steal a line from Garrison Keillor, on a 108-year-old system with 5 million daily riders, one-in-a-million things happen five times a day…”

Whatever. We still think it’s the Apocalypse.

Send story tips to the author, Anna Merlan